Avs heading back to state playoffs after big weekend
It was a must-win situation for the Aspen Avalanche last weekend.
The outline was simple for the Avs, Aspen’s High School hockey team, win and they are in the state tournament, lose and they’re out of the state playoffs.
And the two-time defending state champion Avs proved why they are one of the state’s elite teams, as they defeated Littleton II in two games, earning their return ticket to the state tournament next month.
‘We knew going into the weekend what we had to do,” Avs coach Mark LeRose said. “We set our goals to win both games, and we recognized that and we won both games.”
“We went into the weekend pretty focused,” he continued. “And the team played the systems well – there were almost no breakdowns at all.”
Aspen defeated the Hawks 2-0, and 3-1 in what LeRose called two very “physical games.”
Aspen’s standout senior goalie Carter Crouch stopped 57 of 58 shots on goal in the two games.
“I can’t say enough about Carter’s performance,” LeRose said. “He played outstanding.”
The team was forced to play without Brian Phillips who suffered a broken leg last week in a skiing accident.
“That was a big loss for us,” LeRose said. “He was a good leader for this team.”
The weekend kicked off Saturday night and with just under six minutes remaining in the first period, Aspen struck first blood as Carter Hanson scored on an assist from Bridger Smith to give Aspen an early 1-0 advantage.
The second period saw both teams hit with penalties resulting in power-play opportunities for both teams, but neither team could convert.
With eight minutes left in the final period, Aspen’s Danny Brown scored off an assist from Stefan Reveal, which put the game away for the Avs.
In Sunday’s second game, Aspen wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as Hanson scored his second goal of the weekend off a rebound from Smith.
The score remained 1-0 in favor of Aspen until midway through the third period when junior Brendan Wynn scored an unassisted shorthanded goal to give Aspen a 2-0 advantage.
Littleton managed to score late in the game after pulling its goalie for a 6-on-5 advantage, cutting the Avs lead in half, 2-1.
Then with 42 seconds left, Hanson scored his second goal of the game, and third of the weekend, to put the game away.
“This now gives us the opportunity to defend our title,” LeRose said.
Aspen will travel to play Arvada for a pair of games Feb. 20 and 21 to close the regular season, before heading to Littleton for the annual state tournament.
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