Midget A’s open tourney with 4-0 win
The Vail Midget A’s seemed to have picked the right time to come together.
The Mountaineers, whose roster is filled mostly with underclassmen from Vail and Summit, struggled early this season, but have won two straight, including a 4-0 win in Friday’s opener against Southern Colorado in the 2003 Vail Sportsmanship Hockey Tournament.
“Our young guys are really starting to adapt to the philosophies of the program, and we’re very, very pleased with their progress,” Vail coach Jade Kersey said. “Now, guys are starting to get more comfortable with their responsibilities and they’re holding themselves accountable for the way that they play. There was great heart and great effort out there today.”
The Midget A’s played their lanes, hustled and had excellent special teams, killing all three of SCAHA’s power plays and going 1-for-2 when they had the advantage.
Summit’s Billy Barto started the festivities three minutes in with an unassisted goal. In the second period, Vail’s Chris Chase came flying out of the penalty box, finding Summit’s Kyle Gilchrist for a 2-0 lead.
Just 18 seconds later, Gilchrist broke in alone and made it, 3-0.
“We loving having the Summit boys coming over here to play under the Vail Junior Hockey flag,” Kersey said. “We’ve been able to develop some incredible relationships with those kids. Those kids have a lot of heart and they battle just like anybody else. They’ve been a great attribute to our program.”
Kersey added that he was very pleased with the leadership of some of the veterans on the team like Adam Weiss, Matt Heelan, Chase, Gilchrist and Andrew Thompson, who have been invaluable in the leadership department.
Speaking of Thompson, he got Vail’s fourth goal, courtesy of Gregory Flynn and Weiss.
The Vail Midget A’s continued Sportsmanship play late Friday night against Hyland Minor.
MIdget AA’s fall to Aspen
The Vail Midgets AA’s opened the 2003 Vail Sportsmanship Hockey Tournament with a thud Friday afternoon, falling to Aspen, 3-1, in lackluster fashion.
An absence of good skating and passing, normally the team’s trademark, as well as a string of second-period penalties left the Mountaineers with an 0-1 start in their home tournament.
“The guys came out flat. There’s no question,” Kersey said. “We played a very disciplined hockey team today. They controlled the neutral zone. When you control the neutral zone, it’s the balance point of the ice. They kept everything to the outside. We just have to be hungrier to get in to prime scoring areas and get second-shot opportunities.”
Vail did that once during the first period when Alex Biegler picked an Aspen pass in the Skiers’ end and fed Jason Chase. Both Chase and the puck went into the net for a 1-0 Vail lead.
But, a lack of discipline in the second period started a parade of four straight Mountaineers to the sin bin on whistles, essentially taking Vail out of its game for good on the afternoon, leaving Kersey none too happy. He ended up benching both Chase and Max Miller for taking careless penalties for most of the second and third periods.
“It was probably one of the most undisciplined games we’ve played,” Kersey said. “There was as stretch of six (sic) penalties. We had quite a few penalties in a row and we earned every single one of them. We just have to be more committed to each other and more committed to team concepts and winning. Hopefully, if we do that, the guys are going to realize the benefits of staying out of box.”
Aspen tied the game in the first on an unassisted goal from Jordan Friedland. The visitors took the lead for good when Tyler Doremus and Tyler Horn fed Lincoln Neiley with 9:59 left in the game. Neiley iced the game with an empty-netter in the final seconds.
The Vail Midget AA’s still have plenty of hockey left to play this weekend and that started with a late night affair Friday with Cooper Lee and Steamboat Springs. But, the Mountaineers will certainly have to pick up their efforts, if they plan to be in Sunday’s title game.
“I think that’s up to them,” Kersey said. “We give them the map and they need to follow it. If they’re committed to winning, they’ll rebound. They’re a resilient group. They’ve got a lot of desire and a lot of heart. Today was a poor performance, and they know it. The good thing is that I know they’re not going to accept it either.”
Happy birthday to Beth Chow. The Sportsmanship tournament director turns, by our calculations, about 28 today. Many happy returns. … There’ll be a silent auction today at the rink with all sorts of goodies, including Avs and Colorado College tickets, hockey merchandise and dinners and gift certificates from local businesses. All proceeds go to the Vail Junior Hockey Association, so bring your checkbook. … Today’s games: The Vail Midget AA’s take on Foothills at 10:55 a.m., followed by Littleton at 6:45 p.m. The Midget A’s face Aspen at 4:10, followed by crossover-pool game at either 8 p.m. or 9:20 p.m.
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at email@example.com.