Aspen Leafs hockey team hosts undefeated Miners Friday, Saturday | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Leafs hockey team hosts undefeated Miners Friday, Saturday

The Aspen Leafs play the Colorado Thunderbirds earlier this season.

Yes, there is parity in the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League this season, its second of existence. At least, there is parity if you don't take the Pikes Peak Miners into account.

"I wouldn't say they've been cruising through everybody, but they've got two veteran goaltenders that really make a big difference," said Shaun Hathaway, the RMJHL president and executive director of Aspen Junior Hockey, about the Miners. "They win a lot of overtime games. They are certainly a veteran team with size. And they are hungry."

The Miners sit atop the five-team, Tier 3 league with a perfect 13-0 record. They've outscored their opponents 70 to 20 this season. In second are the Aspen Leafs at 8-5-1 overall. The Miners visit Aspen today and Saturday, the final games before teams go on a short holiday break.

Pikes Peak was the inaugural regular-season league champion a season ago, although Aspen defeated the Miners in overtime in the championship game to take the overall league crown.

"They obviously want to come back this year and win a title," Hathaway said of the Miners. "You hate to say must win, but at this point in the season, these are some crucial hockey games."

The teams have played three times already this season, the Miners winning all three games of the mid-October series. Aspen dropped the first game 8-0, the second 6-2, and the third game 4-3 in overtime. Since those games, the Leafs are 6-2.

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Pikes Peak has the top three individual goal scorers in the league. Kole Mudra's 15 goals lead the way. Aspen's Alec Johnson and Charlie Van Allen are among four tied for fourth in scoring with seven goals each.

"The boys, they felt they should have won both of those two games after getting shelled on the first night," Hathaway said of the first series with the Miners. "There is a hunger and a confidence in that locker room. They'll be ready to compete. There is no doubt."

Both weekend games start at 7 p.m. inside Lewis Ice Arena.

Following this weekend, the Leafs are off until playing Steamboat in Glenwood Springs on Dec. 2.

acolbert@aspentimes.com