Fall Face-Off tournament returns to Ice Garden
With the Aspen Avalanche Midget AA team on a brief hiatus so its members can concentrate on the state high school soccer playoffs, the Aspen Junior Hockey pee wees and bantams are in the spotlight this weekend.
Tonight marks the beginning of the annual Fall Face-Off tournament at the Aspen Ice Garden, with pee wee and bantam teams from all over the state descending on Aspen for a weekend’s worth of hockey action.
The Aspen Pee Wee AA team will start things off at 5:10 tonight, when they take on arch-rival Vail. The Aspen Pee Wee B’s will take the ice at 6:20 p.m. in a game against Foothills.
The Bantam B’s will lead things off for the older players with an 8:40 p.m. contest versus Colorado Springs. After that game, the Aspen Bantam AA’s will square off against Boulder.
Each of Aspen’s four teams will play two games Saturday, with the Pee Wee B’s skating at 7:10 a.m. against Littleton and at 1 p.m. versus Fort Collins. The Pee Wee AA’s will take on Arvada and Arapahoe at 9:30 a.m. and 5:50 p.m., respectively.
The Bantam B’s will play Littleton at 10:40 a.m. and Hyland Hills at 7 p.m., and the Bantam AA’s will match up against Arvada at 3:30 p.m. before taking on DU in a 10 p.m. nightcap.
Pool play will conclude Sunday morning to clear the way for the championship games Sunday afternoon. The Pee Wee B final will come first, at 10 a.m., followed by the Pee Wee AA’s at 11:30 a.m.
First up for the bantams will be the B championship at 1 p.m. The Bantam AA final will conclude the tournament at 2:30 p.m. Midgets second in Fort Collins The Aspen Avalanche Midget AA team traveled to Fort Collins recently for their latest round of games in the annual Ice Breaker Tournament.
Aspen lost its opening game Saturday morning to the host team by a score of 3-0, but the Avalanche bounced back to win its next game that evening by a 5-1 score over the Colorado Springs Cougars. Oliver Garfield and Carter Hansen had two goals each for the Avalanche, and Jeremy Young added another goal.
This set up a Sunday morning contest against DU. Due to the point system used for the tournament, Aspen had to not only win the game, but win by three goals to advance to the finals.
Tied 0-0 heading into the third period, the Avalanche got goals from Hansen and Brendan Wynn to take the lead. As time was winding down, though, it began to look as if Aspen would come up one goal short of the finals despite the win, but DU pulled its goalie with one minute to play, and Hansen converted an empty-net chance to give the Avalanche a 3-0 victory and send it on to the championship game.
The finals offered Aspen a chance to avenge its opening loss against Fort Collins. In a physical battle, the two teams played to a 2-2 deadlock late in the third period with Aspen’s goals coming courtesy of Garfield and Chris Erickson. With only a minute to go in the game, Aspen’s Michael Friedland tallied to put the Avalanche up 3-2, but the lead was short-lived, as Fort Collins tied the game back up with 32 ticks left on the clock.
The game went into overtime, where, despite some good scoring opportunities, Aspen fell to the host team 4-3.
Although disappointed with the loss, coaches Brett Kurtz and Tersh Jones said they are happy with the way the team is coming together.
The Avalanche will next take to the ice for two home games against DU Nov. 13-14, after the state soccer tournament is completed.
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