Big-time hockey entertains Aspen’s fans |

Big-time hockey entertains Aspen’s fans

Todd Hartley

It was called “Big-Time Hockey in a Small Mountain Town,” and it proved to be just that.

Playing in the biggest night of hockey in the Roaring Fork Valley in many a year, the NHL All-Star Alumni, a team comprised of former NHL standouts, and the Trashmen of Aspen, the valley’s senior elite men’s team, thrilled a packed house at the Aspen Ice Garden as the All-Stars pulled out a 5-5 tie in the final minute of regulation time.

Tony Tanti, a 12-year NHL veteran, beat Trashmen goalie Steve Mageres with a high wrist shot with just 46 seconds to play after the All-Stars pulled goalie Eddie Mio in favor of an extra attacker. The ploy worked as a crowd in front of the net kept Mageres screened on the shot that sent the game into overtime.

After a scoreless, five-minute extra session, there was to have been a shoot-out, but Mio was having hamstring problems, so the game was called a draw.

“We decided to call the game a tie, that way everyone wins,” said Ron Duguay, the captain of the NHL squad.

“But we’re going to come back again next year, and hopefully we can win the cup then.”

The last-minute goal by Tanti overshadowed a spectacular night by the Trashmen’s Al Butler, who scored a hat trick and had an assist in helping Aspen to a 5-3 lead late in the game.

The All-Stars jumped out to an early lead in the first half (the game featured two 25-minute halves rather than three periods) when 1980 U.S. Olympic gold-medalist and two-time NHL All-Star Neal Broten beat Aspen goalie Andy Doherty for an unassisted goal just minutes into the contest.

Butler answered right back four minutes in with the first of his three goals, off an assist from Steve Whitmore, and then combined with Whitmore to set up a Glenn Thurston score five minutes later that gave the Trashmen a 2-1 lead.

With under seven minutes to play in the first, Karl Clauss made the score 3-1 when he scored off a Dan Cokley pass. Peter McBride also picked up an assist.

Shortly after that, the Trashmen threatened to make it a blowout when Butler tallied again after a scramble for a loose puck in front of the All-Stars’ net.

Whitmore picked up his third assist on the play, and Keith Howie also notched an assist. But just over a minute later, the All-Stars’ Mike Lalor made a beautiful pass to Tanti at the corner of the Aspen net to cut the deficit to 4-2 at halftime.

Dave “Tiger” Williams, the NHL’s all-time leader in penalty minutes, had the other assist on the goal.

Pat Bouttette of the All-Stars opened the second-half scoring off assists by John Ogrodnick and Dennis Maruk to cut the Aspen lead to 4-3 before Butler completed his hat trick by deking Mio and sliding the puck into the open net after a pass from TK Kwiatkowski.

The All-Stars made the score 5-4 with 18 minutes to play when Williams found Pat Flatley open in front of the net.

Mageres made the initial stop, but Flatley was able to put home the rebound.

For the next 17-plus minutes the game went scoreless, with both Mio and Mageres coming up huge in the nets time and time again. With 1:14 to play and a face-off in Aspen’s end of the ice, the All-Stars pulled Mio to gain more offensive punch, and Tanti scored 28 seconds later to earn the tie.

“This was a great show for Aspen,” said Trashmen player/coach Wily Manering after the game.

“We couldn’t have planned this any better,” said Duguay, who organized the game along with Manering. “They were a better team than I thought they’d be. They forced us to play at our out-of-shape best.

“And we’ll definitely be back next year,” he promised.

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