ASPEN - Aspen hockey coach Al Butler admitted that Friday's physical bout in Steamboat Springs took a toll on his squad.
Mullen made the Skiers pay Saturday. The Mustangs scored the first three goals at the Aspen Recreation Center, then closed with a flurry to finish off Aspen, 5-2.
The Skiers now have dropped two straight after opening with three wins.
"We just didn't quite have the energy tonight like we did last night," Butler said. "We started to come back in third, but it's like I told them, we can't wait that long."
After being overmatched in the first two periods, Aspen made things interesting in a hurry in the third. Sam Rappaport trimmed the deficit with 12 minutes, 34 seconds remaining when he corralled an accurate pass and flicked a shot into the top corner of the net.
Forty seconds later, Beau Cameron fired a pass from behind the net to a streaking Matthew Ferguson, who slipped the puck past Mullen goalkeeper Eric Bond.
The Skiers' comeback bid was severely hampered, however, by an untimely penalty a few minutes later. After being whistled for checking from behind, Connor Peirce was given a five-minute major and was disqualified from the game.
About three minutes later, the Mustangs capitalized. Anthony DiSaverio scored from close range off assists from Ryan Cope and Mitchell Sakic, son of Mullen assistant and NHL Hall of Famer Joe Sakic.
Aspen committed 12 penalties in the game. One of those infractions cost the Skiers early in the first period, when Mullen's Sean Detine converted on a 5-on-4 advantage.
Nick Zyzda scored just 12 seconds after the puck dropped in the second to give the Mustangs a two-goal advantage.
"That's just a focus issue right there, not being mentally prepared for that right away," Butler said. "That's obviously something we need to work on."
Sean Detine tacked on an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in regulation to seal the win.
Mullen, now 2-4, outshot the Skiers, 29-18.
Aspen will look to rebound at 4 p.m. Saturday, when it hosts 5A Foothills foe Dakota Ridge in its final game before winter break.
"I think we're still in good shape if we win that game," Butler said. "We've had a lot guys start to step up for us."