Midget AAs off to slow start
Enthusiasm and youth can only go so far.
That’s the message loud and clear for Midget AA coach John Thompson after a weekend of Front Range hockey.
The Midget AAs dropped two hotly contested games last weekend – a 5-2 loss to Pikes Peak and a 6-3 loss to DU. Aspen’s record stands at 1-4-1.
“We just can’t get on a roll,” said Thompson. “I’m very positive about our future, but we’ve got four guys out.”
Now that the Aspen Skiers’ final soccer game of the season is over, Thompson should get his four players back in the lineup.
The Midget AAs showed some quick-strike offense, stiff net-minding by Stewart Barwick and a strong effort from several “replacement” players. But both the Pikes Peak and DU squads showed off their early-season strengths, outshooting Aspen 41-18 in game 1 and 23-11 in game 2.
Although Aspen was out-maneuvered, both games were closer than the final score indicated. With the loss of 11 seniors from last year’s Midget AA team and the additional loss of “key” soccer personnel, Thompson still remains “very positive.”
“It will come with time,” the coach said. Aspen faces a 38-game schedule, including some games in a statewide high school league and the rest in the CAHA (Colorado Amateur Hockey Association) league.
Pikes Peak startled Aspen with a hot-paced offense in the first period, throwing a quick barrage of shots at Aspen goaltender Barwick. With several quick pad and glove saves, Barwick managed to redirect 17 shots to keep the score tied 0-0 at the end of the first period.
Barwick continued to stuff the Pikes Peak offense early in the second period, but eventually succumbed to the barrage, giving up four unanswered goals.
As the third period started, Aspen rebounded with a quick strike. Cody Obuhanick ripped a slap shot past the Pikes Peak goalie after a multiple-pass play from Grant Gracis and Matt Young.
The comeback was short-lived, however. Pikes Peak continued to dominate with better passing, quickness to the puck and interceptions.
One interception led to Pikes Peak’s fifth goal, with the center stealing an Aspen pass, walking in unmolested and passing to his winger for the score.
Undeterred, Aspen scored a late goal, with James lbbotson digging it down the wing and passing across the goal mouth to Gracis for the score. Jeremy Young assisted. Barwick stopped 41 of 46 shots.
The Midget AAs started the game against DU with a crisp offense and an immediate score. On a long, up-ice pass, Warren Chitty hit a breaking Ry Neiley, who beat the defense and shot upper shelf.
DU came right back minutes later, scoring to tie the game. Several saves by Barwick late in the first period kept the score even at the end of the period.
Early in the second period, Aspen performed a perfect break-out, which led to a three-man rush, a pass across goal from Chris Luu and a score by “replacement” center Eric Strauss.
Strauss scored again early in the third period off a charging two-man rush, with Neiley intercepting a pass, drawing the defense out wide and passing across the goal mouth to Strauss for the score.
Meanwhile, DU kept the pressure on, scoring three goals in the second period and two more in the third for a final 6-3 score. DU outshot Aspen 23-11.
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Amid the pre-Thanksgiving gloom of grim pandemic news here in Aspen, across Colorado and the mountain west came a small but significant dose of hope in the unlikely form of an Aspen Music Festival and School announcement.