ASPEN - The Aspen hockey team hopes this is a sign of things to come.
The Skiers scored five goals just once during a 2011-12 campaign in which they won seven of 19 games. In Wednesday's season opener at Lewis Ice Arena, Aspen attacked the Battle Mountain net with great success. Jack Doremus and Garrett Goldsmith scored two goals each, and Colter Robinson found the back of the net once for the Skiers, who twice overcame deficits to pull out a 5-3 victory.
"We scored three times on rebounds. Those are goals we haven't been able to convert in the past," Aspen head coach Al Butler said. "That obviously means we were crashing the net and putting pucks in the net when we got there.
"This is a pretty good group of young men."
Sophomore Doremus helped Aspen keep pace early. He finished off a pass from teammate Colter Robinson for a shorthanded equalizer with 10 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the opening period, then knotted things at two at the 7:12 mark in the second. On the latter, Doremus came away with the puck in a crowd in front of the crease and slipped a shot past Huskies goaltender Oliver Elvenger.
The Skiers took their first lead 29 seconds before intermission, when Goldsmith ripped a shot from just inside the blue line that clipped the net.
"The first couple games are tough from the standpoint that you have to get a feel for whether your line combinations are right and your (defensive) partners are right," Butler said. "It was nice to see that we had some continuity out there with the combinations."
While the goals piled up, so did Aspen penalties - 11 of them. Battle Mountain twice converted on power plays, including Bjorn Bredeson's game-tying score with 8:18 remaining in regulation.
"It's tough when you're either killing or on the power play on a regular basis. There's no flow, and it doesn't allow me to get other guys in the game," Butler said. "They all stepped up when they got on the ice. Everybody played well tonight."
And played well down the stretch. With little more than three minutes to play, Robinson cleaned up a deflection to put the Skiers on top for good. Goaltender Alex Parrish withstood a late flurry of Huskies shots, then Goldsmith converted an empty-netter in the final seconds to secure victory.
"It was a good start seeing as this was our first game and their third. They obviously had a little bit more time to prepare," said Butler, whose squad hosts Summit on Friday (7 p.m.) and Liberty on Saturday (4 p.m.). "When you win one, you always want to get right back out there. It'd be nice to get a win both nights this weekend and get off to a really good start."