Aspen skates to OT win
December 13, 2008
ASPEN ” Aspen head hockey coach Al Butler said he came away from last weekend’s fruitless tournament in Summit County knowing his Skiers had heart, grit and determination.
Now, they have a win.
Senior Murphy Fyrwald finished a pass from Daniel Doremus on a power play in the opening minutes of the second period, then found the net three minutes into overtime to lift the Skiers to the 2-1 victory over visiting Peak to Peak.
Aspen connected on just two of 33 shot attempts, yet managed to prevail, avoiding an 0-4 start.
“It’s good to be home, “Fyrwald said. “We were coming off a long, long weekend in Summit … we didn’t want to see the season go down that fast. We knew we had to bounce back.”
That desperation showed in a first period in which the Skiers outshot the Pumas, 11-3. Still, Aspen could not slip the puck past Peak to Peak goalkeeper Jake Hebda.
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Fyrwald changed that three minutes into the second period ” and seconds after Pumas forward Tyler Miller was whistled for tripping. Doremus, the state’s fifth leading scorer in 2008, won the faceoff in Peak to Peak’s end, then tapped the puck to Fyrwald in front of the net. Fyrwald made one swift move to his right, then flipped a backhanded shot ” Aspen’s 14th ” into the top right corner.
“The odds are always in your favor when you’re getting those chances,” Butler said.
The odds hadn’t been good to the Skiers in the season’s early going. They outshot Steamboat Springs, Battle Mountain and Summit last weekend, but came away with three losses. In its season opener against the Sailors, Aspen had twice as many shots on goal and squandered an early two-goal lead.
It looked like the Skiers would suffer a similar fate Friday. A Pumas forward hit the post with 12 minutes, 13 seconds to play in the third period, then Aspen failed to clear the puck. Peak to Peak’s Travis Fleming tracked down the puck near center ice, skidded a pass into a crowd situated directly in front of Skiers goalkeeper Zach Ware, then teammate Buster Hebda scored the equalizer.
In the ensuing minutes, a visibly frustrated Aspen squad was whistled for multiple penalties. During one stretch, the Skiers were two men down for nearly two minutes.
“I told them to relax and keep playing as hard as they played last weekend,” Butler said. “If you do that, things should happen for us.”
The Skiers wiggled out of the jam, forcing an eight-minute sudden death overtime period. It took them just three minutes to produce the game winner ” and it was no coincidence Doremus was right in the middle of the action again.
The junior forward, now tied with Fyrwald for the team lead in scoring, pushed the puck deep into the Pumas’ zone, drew two defenders and passed off to Fyrwald, who scored his third and most important goal of the season.
Finally, a reason to celebrate.
“Daniel beat two guys and the goalie. All I had to do was tap it in,” Fyrwald said. “This proves we can stick with any team. We came back after they had a goal and had the momentum. We proved we can do it.”
“This always seems to be our M.O.,” Butler added. “It usually takes us four or five games to get it going.”
He expected it to come earlier, but the coach said he was happy to finally log that first win, especially with next week’s trip to the Front Range looming. Aspen will complete a home and home with the Pumas on Friday, then take on second-ranked Ralston Valley the following day.
After that, the Skiers won’t take the ice again for 20 days.
While his team has traditionally played better in the second half of the season ” Aspen was 24-5-1 after New Year’s in the last two seasons, which included a run to the 2007 5A state title ” Butler said his young team needed some reassurance and a confidence boost.
Friday’s win should do just that.
“We made life a little easier for ourselves. We’ll go back to work Monday night and keep striving,” Butler added. “Hopefully this is the spark we need to move forward.”