Pumas send Huskies home in semis | VailDaily.com

Pumas send Huskies home in semis

Ian Cropp

COLORADO SPRINGS – For every scoring chance Battle Mountain couldn’t convert on, Peak to Peak did. So it went for the Huskies Friday night in their 4-1 loss at the Frozen Four semifinals at World Arena in Colorado Springs.”They buried their chances and we didn’t,” said Battle Mountain coach Gary Defina. “We hit a post, a crossbar, and had a goal called back. Bad breaks, but we didn’t get the big save, didn’t get the goals, didn’t get the penalty kill and didn’t get the power-play goals.” The Huskies dominated the Pumas in the first period. For most of the first five minutes, the puck never left the Peak to Peak zone.”We came out great,” Defina said. “We were outshooting them, 6-0. We were doing everything right. Then, their first two shots went in, and it crushes you when that happens. It takes the wind right out of your sails.” With Battle Mountain on the power play, Peak to Peak’s Joshua Wrede scored his first of two goals on the night to give his team a lead it wouldn’t relinquish all game. On a 2-on-2, Wrede faked a wrist shot, freezing the defenseman and Huskies’ goalie Foster Fox. Wrede then took two more strides and fired a wrist shot into the net. No more than a minute later, just as the Battle Mountain power play was expiring, Peak to Peak blocked a shot that made its way onto the stick of Dan Banta as he exited the penalty box. Banta faked out Fox to give his team a 2-0 lead with 5:39 left in the period.”That was huge,” Peak to Peak coach Jim Moffett. “Battle Mountain came out so strong in the first part of the game. We’ve been especially strong in short-handed situations, and those goals really turned the tide of the game.” For all their efforts, the Huskies went to the locker room after 15 minutes empty handed and a bit flustered.”We came out and every person on each line crushed someone,” said Battle Mountain’s Kyle Woods. “That’s what everyone was so down about. When they scored those two goals, we got down on each other.” Losing the tempoIn the second frame, the Huskies didn’t play with the pep they had brought in the first.After the Huskies failed to get any good chances on their power play, the Pumas got their chance when the Huskies’ Jonny Stevens was whistled for interference. As time wound down in the penalty, the Pumas’ Ryan Meyer moved the puck to a wide-open Wrede in front. Wrede buried the puck to give his team a three-goal cushion. But the Pumas gave the Huskies a chance to get back into the game, taking a checking-from-behind penalty, then a roughing minor one minute later. Not only were the Huskies unable to score, but they ended up two-men down themselves soon enough.Lo and behold, Peak to Peak negated its two-man advantage with a penalty, but the Pumas dominated deep in the Battle Mountain zone during a 4-on-4, and the Huskies were unable to line change that led to the Pumas’ fourth goal. Alex Juhrs took advantage of the tired Huskies, skating the puck from the corner to the front of the net without being touched, and slipped one past Fox. Before the period ended, Battle Mountain’s Casey Kleisinger found an open puck in the Pumas’ slot and rifled it past the Peak to Peak’s Greg Bouchers, giving the Huskies some much needed life. Coulter Somes and Derek Byron assisted on the goal Although the Huskies had several scoring chances in the third period, Bouchers was up to task, stopping everything and gobbling up most rebounds. All at onceFor the third period, it seemed like the Huskies were trying to score three goals at once.”That’s the way kids will think when you are down like that,” Defina said. “You try to tell them to take it one shift at a time, one goal at time, but, you know, we didn’t get it done.” The disappointment for the Huskies’ was noticeable, and they had trouble playing with tenacity and cohesion in the final frame.”We started to break down and things weren’t clicking,” Woods said. “Even simple things like being onsides.”Peak to Peak closed out the game in its own zone, but blocked most of the Huskies’ shots and cleared the puck when it gained control.”Battle Mountain is one of the best teams in the first period, and they showed that,” Moffett said. “But luckily we were able to capitalize on a few of their mistakes and we were able to hold on.” Upset?Friday’s appearance in the Frozen Four was the first for Peak to Peak, and the fifth straight for Battle Mountain.”Nobody expected us to be here from the beginning of the season,” Defina said. “We had a heck of a run at the end of the season.”Woods also thought the Huskies surprised many with their second-half surge. “Early on in the season, we were thinking it wasn’t going to happen, but we showed we are always a team to beat. We’re always a team that can come and win this. It just takes heart, but that was something we lacked a little bit.” The Huskies lose Chris Chase and Matt Heelan to graduation.Peak to Peak will face Cheyenne Mountain in the finals today. The Indians beat Summit earlier Friday, 4-1. Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 970-949-0555, ext 14631, or at icropp@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado

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