Aspen High hockey starting | AspenTimes.com

Aspen High hockey starting

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

The Aspen Skiers are ready to hit the ice.

The Aspen High School hockey team will open the new season Tuesday night under the direction of a new head coach with a new orientation.

The Skiers will host Steamboat Springs in the 6 p.m. start at Lewis Ice Arena at the Aspen Recreation Center (ARC) — the first of 12 home games this season.

"The preparation has gone well," said new head coach Dru Lucchesi, who moves up after serving as an assistant for two seasons. "I'm excited, the boys are excited, too."

Lucchesi said he spent a lot of time last summer planning for the start of the high school hockey season.

"I think there's an excitement to having a new voice," he said, adding that the preseason workouts have been spirited — on the ice and in the weight room.

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A strong senior class leads the way, he said.

"We're really heavy this year with seniors," Lucchesi said, adding that their focus and concentration will carry over to the younger players.

The Aspen defense, for example, will feature five seniors and a freshman.

"We're very fortunate, we have three outstanding goalies," Lucchesi said.

Senior Evan Morris is back as the anchor of the Aspen defense.

A junior and a sophomore and a freshman from Glenwood Springs give the Skiers depth in the pipes, the first-year AHS head coach said.

Up front, the Skiers have line combinations to challenge the competition in the rugged statewide prep hockey league.

Lucchesi said the Skiers will start with three lines and use quick line changes.

To prepare for rapid line rotations, he said the Skiers are training in the gym and weight room with James Aldridge.

Aldrige, an assistant football coach, is a former Notre Dame running back and current standout with the Gentlemen of Aspen rugby club.

"They've been going really hard with James in the gym … working really hard," Lucchesi said. "And on the ice, working hard."

He said the combination of veteran senior leadership and a heavy home schedule, the Skiers have a unique opportunity this season.

After hosting Steamboat Springs on Tuesday, the Skiers will hit the road for back-to-back games at Summit (Breckenridge) on Friday, Dec., 5, and at Battle Mountain (Vail) on Saturday, Dec. 6.

Then, in a span of nine days, the Aspen hockey team will host four more games: Valor Christian (Dec. 12), Air Academy (Dec. 13), Cherry Creek (Dec. 19) and Regis Jesuit (Dec. 20).

"Last year, I think we had … 12 games on the road. This year, I'm excited we have 12 home games," Lucchesi said. "And we get two of the real heavy hitters in our league — Regis and Creek — here."

Lucchesi said the Skiers will introduce rudimentary systems for the opener and add as the season goes on.

They'll have a chance to refine their systems with seven games before the Christmas/New Year's break.

Lucchesi said the Skiers must be a well-conditioned and disciplined team.

"We can't spend time in the (penalty) box. We' can't," he said.

"We're excited. We've got great coaches; the boys are working hard," he said. "We have a good chance to be a very competitive team."

dstrode@aspentimes.com

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