AHS hockey clinches No. 2 playoff seed
In its first-ever season, the Aspen High hockey team clinched second-place in the Colorado High School (CHS) League with a win over Summit in Breckenridge Tuesday.
With the 4-2 win, Aspen closed out its regular season schedule with an 11-2 league record and locked up the second seed in the state playoffs, which begin for Aspen on Feb. 21 in Colorado Springs.
“We’re in a great position for the playoffs,” said Aspen coach Brett Kurtz. “The fear going into (Tuesday’s game vs. Summit) was that if we lost, we could have dropped all the way to fourth. We didn’t want to be in that position – we wanted second and we got exactly what we wanted. And second place in our first year in the league is pretty good.”
Liberty, a school in Colorado Springs, will likely win the Colorado High School League, and the No. 1 seed for the playoffs along with it, Kurtz said. However, the rank of teams beneath Aspen, in second, will be determined over the next week when all league games are completed.
Against Summit Tuesday night, Aspen came out flat in the first 15-minute period but managed to escape with a 3-0 lead, thanks to a pair of goals by senior Carter Hansen, and another, with less than two minutes left, by senior Jeff Flack. Senior Jamie Gull assisted on the first Hansen goal, and sophomore Reid Hansen, Carter’s younger brother, assisted on the second, a power play goal. Junior Sean Friedland assisted on the Flack goal.
“Toward the end of the first period we started to play,” Kurtz said, “and those goals came quickly for us. But as I told the kids in the locker room, `Welcome to Breckenridge. I didn’t see you here earlier.’ “
In the second, Kurtz said the Aspen team failed to show up and play, allowing two Summit goals. With a 3-2 Aspen advantage in the third, junior Cody Obuhanick added an insurance goal midway through the period.
Sophomore Aspen goalie Jesse Amory saw 12 shots from Summit, compared to Aspen’s 37 shots on the Summit net.
“For the playoffs, it’s gotta be 45 minutes, no alibis and no regrets. That’s how we’re approaching it,” said Kurtz. “Not since Cheyenne Mountain (Jan. 19) have we played a solid game from start to finish, and it cost us against Air Academy (Feb. 3). If you do that in the playoffs, you’re going home early.”
Aspen has two weeks to prepare for its first-round playoff game Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Sertich Ice Arena in Colorado Springs. Aspen will play the No. 7 seed (out of 8 qualifying teams), though that team has not been determined yet.
“We need the time,” Kurtz said, “but it’s going to be a challenge to keep everyone focused and motivated. It’s a long time, and we need to work on a lot of things, like our defensive zone coverage. My philosophy is that defense and special teams win championships.”
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