ASPEN - In the third quarter, Eric Abrahamovich erupted in jubilation with his Skiers teammates as he found the net for the go-ahead score.
The Aspen hockey team swarmed the senior at Lewis Ice Arena, but the referees assembled near center ice and then waved the goal off.
Arguments from players and head coach Al Butler were fruitless, and in overtime, Columbine (4-8) scored with less than two minutes remaining for a final score, 2-1. After the game, Butler said the tilt never should have gotten to that point after a dominant first period in which the Skiers scored just one goal on 11 shots.
"When you don't score goals when you get the easy opportunities, you leave the other team around, then that's what happens," he said.
From the outset, it seemed that Aspen (4-3) had the game under control, holding possession and ripping shots at the Rebels goalkeeper. After four minutes, Harry Ferguson took a long shot from the left side, and it rebounded off to the left where Jack Doremus was there to slot the puck in.
For the rest of the first period and much of the second, the Skiers continued to find good opportunities but couldn't get it past the tall Columbine goalkeeper.
In the second, the Skiers, according to Butler, lost some of their composure.
Five penalties were called during the period, and Columbine capitalized on one opportunity to even the score.
"Sometimes I think these guys think they're playing in the NHL - and can get away with things they get away with in the NHL," Butler said. "You can't get away with that here."
By the end of the second, Aspen outshot the Rebels, 20-19, but the momentum was clearly shifted in favor of the visitors.
Coming out in the third, the Skiers brought an energy similar to what they displayed in the first - attacking loose pucks and pressuring the Columbine goalkeeper. The near-goal midway through the third wasn't the only chance, as Aspen outshot the Rebels, 18-5, in the final regulation period.
But in overtime, it took Columbine just two shots to hit the game-winner.
"The calls could have gone both ways a little bit more, through my eyes," Butler said. "You can't say that's what lost this game. 42-27 in shots? Something is not right.
"If you start losing conference games, it makes the road that much tougher to get to the playoffs. It puts the pressure on us, but we know what we have to do tomorrow night in another tough game."
Aspen next hosts Chatfield, at 4 p.m. Saturday.