Aspen goalie makes debut vs. NHL alumni | AspenTimes.com

Aspen goalie makes debut vs. NHL alumni

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

Craig Strenkert of the Aspen Leafs U20 juniors plays in goal while Avalanche alum Milan Hejduk skates by at the Lewis Ice Arena.

The Aspen Leafs U20 goalie made the biggest save of his career — just by skating onto the ice.

Craig Strenkert, slated for duty in goal for the fledgling Aspen Leafs U20 junior hockey team, saved the annual Stirling Cup All-Star Weekend in Aspen.

The benefit weekend, a major fundraiser for Aspen Junior Hockey, included a hockey exhibition game between alumni of the Colorado Avalanche and the Boston Bruins.

According to Shaun Hathaway of Aspen Junior Hockey, Avalanche alumni goaltender Ryan Bach suffered a leg injury in the opening period of the exhibition at the Lewis Ice Arena with a large crowd on hand.

"Without a backup goaltender, Craig Strenkert of the Aspen Leafs junior team was asked to step in to keep the game going," Hathaway said.

The native of Edmonds, Washington, skated onto the ice to face the NHL veterans, including the likes of Bob Sweeney and Ken "The Rat" Linseman, among others.

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"It only took a couple of minutes before Strenkert electrified the crowd, making the first of many saves," Hathaway said. "Strenkert did his job to keep the game close."

The Bruins alumni eventually won 10-8 over the Avs alumni, including Milan Hejduk and Stephane Yelle.

"He was really nervous, but I think he played great considering the talent he was playing against," said Jay Miller, head coach of the U20 Aspen Leafs junior squad, set to make its debut this week. "For a young kid, this is a dream come true. It was great he had this opportunity."

Likewise, Strenkert said he appreciated the unique situation.

"This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I was fortunate to get — right place, right time," Stenkert said.

Hathaway said Strenkert added a dynamic element to the annual Aspen Junior Hockey fundraiser.

"The true winners were the youth players and hockey fans watching the legends compete in Aspen," Hathaway said.

The Aspen Leafs U20 team will open the season Friday at the Stephen C. West Arena in Breckenridge against the Breckenridge Bucks.

Game time is set for 8:05 p.m.

The Aspen Leafs will play at Breckenridge again Saturday night.

The Aspen Leafs will make their home debut on Friday, Oct. 9, with a game against the Colorado Rampage at the Aspen Ice Garden. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

Several Aspen Junior Hockey players are moving up to the Aspen U20 team for this opening season, including Anders Brucker, Arthur Kelso and Charlie Van Allen.

dstrode@aspentimes.com

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