Fall Face-Off brings hockey home to Aspen
Aspen’s Midget AA hockey team entered Sunday’s championship game in the umpteenth annual 2000 Fall Face-Off confident that they could skate away with a victory.
And why not? The team, comprised of high school-age players, beat their championship-game opponent Arvada 3-2 in the opening game of round-robin play earlier in the weekend. And later, Aspen tied a Denver University team 2-2 and then crushed Littleton 6-2 to clinch a berth in the finals against Arvada.
But Sunday the team ran out of firepower, losing 5-2 to a re-energized Arvada squad, after playing to a 1-1 tie through two periods of play.
The Midget AA championship Sunday capped off two straight weekends of non-stop hockey action at the Aspen Ice Garden in Aspen’s only home youth hockey tournaments of the season.
Over the two weekends of play, eight divisions of youth hockey were represented – from age 7 through 17 – from communities across the state.
Aspen’s Mite A team, made up of seven- and eight-year-olds, missed out on the championship game Sunday after dropping qualifying games in the four-team bracket to Littleton (0-4), Front Range (3-4) and Highland Hills (0-4). Highland Hills bested Littleton 2-0 to win the tournament Sunday.
“Highland Hills and Littleton are probably the top two programs in the state,” said tournament director Kelly Klein, who organized the Fall Face-Off along with Bud Norris.
In the Squirt A division, for players ages 9 and 10, a team from Vail narrowly edged Aspen out of the championship game. Aspen lost to Vail in the first game of the tourney 3-2 but returned to the ice to beat Denver University 3-1 and then tie Littleton 1-1. Both Aspen and Vail recorded one win, one loss and one tie, and based on the two teams’ head-to-head record, Vail was awarded a berth in the finals. Littleton prevailed in the championship game 2-1.
“This was the most competitive division of both weekends,” Klein said. “It was great hockey.”
In the Squirt B division, Aspen tied Fort Collins 2-2 in their first game, then lost 3-6 to Highland Hills and 1-4 to Arvada.
Last weekend, the Aspen Peewee A team, made up of players 12 and under, won the tournament championship with a 3-2 win over Vail in the finals. The Aspen Peewee B team took second in its bracket, losing in the finals. And the Aspen Bantam B team, comprised of players 14 and under, advanced to the finals but lost to earn runner-up honors.
Fall Face-Off co-directors Norris and Klein thanked the community for its support of the annual tournament, which they described as a community effort.
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