Aspen High hockey drops season opener to Battle Mtn. | AspenTimes.com

Aspen High hockey drops season opener to Battle Mtn.

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Giving that pregame pep talk, Aspen High School hockey coach Mark LeRose says, is a lot like gassing up your car for a big trip.

Of course, you have to keep an eye on how much fuel you use.

“If you have too much, it’ll flood the engine,” LeRose laughed.

LeRose fears he pumped too much gas into his team Friday night as the Skiers dropped their season opener to Battle Mountain, 8-5.

The coach blamed the loss on overexcited players ? the Skiers came out a little too hard and a little too fast, LeRose said, driven by a cheering crowd and a tough competitor.

“When they went out, they were so gung ho, and they were really into it,” LeRose said. “[But] we didn’t play within ourselves and within our system.”

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Aspen’s gusto helped Battle Mountain build a 5-2 lead in the first period. However, AHS settled down considerably and managed to whittle the Battle Mountain lead to 6-5 with just four minutes left in the game.

“We had a power play, and we didn’t convert,” LeRose said. “Against good teams, our special teams have to be good, and they weren’t.

“We had an opportunity to tie it up, and I gave the guys a lot of credit for never giving up and coming back and playing hard, but there are no excuses for a lack of discipline within our own systems.”

LeRose shoulders the blame for the team’s overconfidence.

“We came out with too much emotion,” he said. “As a coach, it’s my responsibility to get a team up for the game, and I feel like I got them a little too pumped up to play.

“It was a good hockey game,” he said. “The kids did play hard ? it’s not like the effort wasn’t there ? we just got caught out of position too many times.”

Senior Matt Young scored two goals, and Scott Tarbet, Jamie Walbert and Sean French each scored one.

Aspen outshot Battle Mountain 24-17.

Friday’s loss was actually a nonconference matchup, LeRose said. The team’s next game ? a visit to Kent Denver scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Friday ? will be its first league meeting of the year and the official start of the AHS hockey season.

And Aspen has the rest of the week to prepare for it.

“We have three practices to refocus,” LeRose said. “I like our chances. I think we’re still one of the top teams [in the league].”