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Avs seek third state title this weekend

Ben Husband

The Avs will be going for a three-peat this weekend in Denver.

The Aspen Avalanche, Aspen High School’s boys hockey team, will travel to Littleton Friday for the State Championships at the South Suburban Rink.

Aspen, which finished the regular season fourth in its division at 8-6, is the two-time defending state champ and will be in hunt for its third title this weekend.

The first round of the tournament begins Friday. The second round is Saturday and the state title game will be Sunday.

Aspen, Arvada, Littleton No. 1 and Denver University will be competing at the postseason tournament.

Arvada enters state play as the top seed after finishing the season undefeated at 14-0. Littleton No. 1 (10-2) is the No. 2 seed while DU (8-5) is the No. three seed.

All of the Avs’ losses this year came to Arvada, Littleton and DU.

“These teams are beatable,” Avs coach Mark LeRose said. “We haven’t beaten them this year, but we have played them all competitively and we know we can beat them.”

The tournament will be played in a double-elimination format – two losses and the season is over.

The Avs’ first game will be at 7 p.m. Friday against Arvada, which defeated Aspen in a pair of matchups last weekend, 7-2 and 11-3.

The winner will advance to the winners bracket, while the loser will fall into the losers bracket.

Last year, Aspen won its first game against DU, but then lost to Littleton, sending the Avs into the losers bracket. There, the Avs defeated DU again, sending them back into the winners bracket where they defeated Littleton twice to capture their second straight state title.

In hunt for a three-peat, LeRose said his team must “play smart and be physically and mentally prepared to play smart.”

“We have to play our A game if we are going to win this weekend,” he said. “The kids know that we have to play smart and they know that these teams are beatable – we just have to be ready to play our game.” A rough weekend in Arvada Before hitting the ice at the State Tournament, the Avs traveled to Arvada last weekend and suffered perhaps their worst losses of the season.

Arvada, the top-ranked team in the Mountain Plains Youth Hockey League, took it to the Avs, who were playing their first game in nearly two weeks.

`We went into the games with a layoff from action,” LeRose said. “We weren’t very sharp and it hurt us.”

In the first game, Aspen jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead off a goal from Carter Hanson from Stefan Reveal at the 11:37 mark of the first period.

Arvada then answered with back-to-back power-play goals late in the opening period to take a 2-1 before scoring a shorthanded goal in the final minute of the first period for the 3-1 lead.

Arvada continued its scoring assault with two more goals in the second period, taking advantage of Aspen penalties and breakaway opportunities.

With 7:57 left in the final period, Aspen’s Bridger Smith scored from Hanson, but Arvada answered right back with another power-play goal and another score three minutes later to put the game out of reach.

Aspen goalie Carter Crouch, one of the top goalies in the league, stopped 30 of 37 shots.

In the second game, it was more of the same for Aspen as Arvada, already leading 1-0, exploded for five goals in the second period.

Aspen managed to score three goals, with Brendan Wynn scoring twice and Reveal adding another, but Arvada held a commanding 6-3 lead entering the final period.

Refusing to let up, Arvada added five third-period goals to secure the 11-3 win.

Crouch stopped 23 of 34 shots.


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