AHS hockey faces off with Kent Denver in semifinals
The Aspen High hockey team faces off with Kent Denver tonight in the semifinals of the Colorado High School Hockey Playoffs in Colorado Springs.
Aspen, the No. 2 seed in the eight-team playoffs, is scheduled to meet No. 3 Kent Denver at 8:05 p.m. at the Air Force Academy rink in Colorado Springs. The other semifinal playoff game, between No. 1 Liberty and No. 4 Cheyenne Mountain, starts at 6:05 p.m., also at the Air Force Academy rink.
On Thursday night in Colorado Springs, Aspen eked out a 5-4 overtime win over No. 7 Palmer in first-round playoff action.
Aspen coach Brett Kurtz said the Kent Denver team that Aspen beat 4-1 Jan. 5 will be different this time around.
“Kent Denver is like a three-headed snake,” Kurtz said, referring to the squad’s center Jake Sparks, winger Billy Warner and defenseman Ben Brenneman, all top scorers in the Colorado High School League during the regular season.
Sparks, last season’s league MVP, left Kent Denver following last season to play with a top junior team, Kurtz said. But after a falling out around the new year, Sparks rejoined Kent Denver shortly after their loss to Aspen. Since then, Sparks has accumulated 15 goals, including two hat tricks, and 8 assists for 23 points.
“That’s basically from playing half the season,” Kurtz said.
“We’ve given the task of shutting those guys down to James Ibbotson’s line,” Kurtz said.
Ibbotson, the junior center who scored Aspen’s game-winning goal against Palmer Thursday night, plays with wingers Grant Gracis and Will Graham.
“We need to shut down those three players, the three heads of the snake, so the snake dies,” Kurtz said. “We’ll take away as much ice as we possibly can, and Ibbotson’s line has the speed to do that. Their role will be important.”
AHS junior goalie Stuart Barwick will get the start tonight, Kurtz said, having recovered from a bone bruise on his glove hand. Barwick boasts a .863 save percentage, based on eight games in the regular season, including one shutout.
Aspen’s leading scorer, sophomore Reid Hansen, is back to 100 percent following a nagging ankle injury, Kurtz said.
“The players are excited, ready and prepared,” Kurtz said.
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Posted: Monday, February 26, 2001
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