Aspen hockey beats No. 4 Resurrection Christian Saturday for best win in years | AspenTimes.com

Aspen hockey beats No. 4 Resurrection Christian Saturday for best win in years

Jordan Hornburg hadn't experienced a win against one of the state's elite teams in his career with the Aspen High School hockey team. Then came Saturday's game at Lewis Ice Arena, where the senior captain scored the game-winner in the third period against Resurrection Christian for the program's best victory in years.

"It feels awesome," Hornburg said. "That was a huge game for us mentally. Now we know we can beat any team we want if we dedicate ourselves and everyone buys in."

Aspen had made a living off beating up mediocre teams the past few seasons, but you'd arguably have to go back to the 2012-13 season and the team's senior day win over Regis Jesuit to find a win as meaningful as Saturday's 3-1 win over the Cougars.

Resurrection Christian, a state semifinalist a year, came to Aspen ranked No. 4 in the state in the latest CHSAANow.com poll. The Skiers, a preseason top-10 team, sat just outside. Also on the line was the leg up in the race for the Peak Conference, which looks to be a three-way battle, with Heritage also in the mix.

"It's a huge confidence booster for our team. We'll just build off it and keep moving forward," AHS coach Dru Lucchesi said. "We'll see these guys again in like two weeks, so we're going to have to face them again. But the kids feel good; the team is looking good."

The teams played a scoreless first period on Saturday before Aspen's Robbie Fitzgerald scored on a breakaway thanks to a pinpoint pass from Dominic Lanese midway through the second period. The momentum didn't last long, as the Cougars answered less than a minute later with a goal from Brennan McFarland to even the game.

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"Those are tough," Hornburg said. "It's a shift in momentum, but after a goal like that we just have to regroup and come back together."

Hornburg's game-winner came five minutes into the third period on a power play.

"Got it at the point and I just saw it bottom left and fired it away," Hornburg said. "It was really all Liam Rigney on that line. He was screening the goalie. That was on him."

The final minutes of the game were riddled with penalties, the Aspen miscues keeping the door open for Resurrection Christian. But with Gage Redman in net and a strong penalty kill, the Skiers held on for the win, an empty-net goal by Max Ufkes in the final second closing out the contest.

The Cougars finished the game 0 for 9 on power plays, while Redman recorded 44 saves in goal. Aspen finished 1 for 9 on power plays while being outshot 45-23 for the game.

"We kind of gave them every opportunity to get back in that game and take advantage of us," Lucchesi said. "Our goalie played out of his mind. Gage had a great game. Having our captain get that game-winner was huge. But it was a whole team effort. We have 20 guys rolling right now."

Resurrection Christian fell to 12-4 overall, with Aspen improving to 10-2-3 on the season. The Skiers still don't have a loss in conference play, although they do have three ties.

Aspen next plays non-conference Denver East on Friday at Lewis Ice Arena before traveling to No. 8 Heritage on Saturday. The Skiers close out the regular season with a Feb. 16 game at Resurrection Christian and a Feb. 17 home game against Mountain Vista, the latter of which is also a non-conference game.

"They know they can play with anybody," Lucchesi said. "This was a big one. This was something we needed and we needed our boys to know and understand and believe in themselves and what they are doing out here."

acolbert@aspentimes.com