After losing lead, Aspen hockey beats Summit via Morrison’s shorthanded goal
If anything, the Aspen High School hockey team isn’t boring.
Eight days after playing to a thrilling 4-4 draw against then-No. 2 Valor Christian in their season opener, the Skiers got their first win of the season Wednesday in a 6-5 victory over visiting Summit at Lewis Ice Arena.
It was a game in which Aspen led 4-0 only to have the Tigers rally to tie it at 5-5 with six minutes to play. The Skiers won thanks to a shorthanded goal by Henry Morrison with only 56 seconds remaining.
“Henry is our go-to,” AHS assistant coach Ryan Kiernan said. “He made a great play. He’s a good leader on the team. We grinded it out. It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done.”
Summit (1-2) hasn’t finished above .500 since the 2009-10 season, and only went 7-13 last winter. It didn’t take long for Aspen to establish its dominance Wednesday with Robbie Fitzgerald making it 1-0 only 57 seconds into the contest.
A five-minute major penalty by Summit led to back-to-back power play goals by Aspen’s Max Ufkes and Connor Chesner in the span of about a minute to give the Skiers a 3-0 lead. It became 4-0 with still seven minutes to play in the first period after Ben O’Brien scored when it was 4 on 4.
Summit’s rally began when it scored a power play goal with less then a second to play in that first period, and scored again barely a minute into the second period to make it 4-2.
Aspen senior Dominic Lanese made it 5-2 after he broke free and had a 1-on-1 situation with the Summit goalie with four minutes to go in the second period, but even that wasn’t enough to silence the Tigers.
Summit scored three straight from there to tie it. The first came on a power play with only 19 seconds to go in the second period. Another power play goal with 10:52 remaining made it 5-4, and the equalizer came with six minutes to play when a Summit shot from just outside the circle skipped underneath the legs of AHS goalie Logan Soderberg.
Summit was awarded a power play with less than three minutes to go, but couldn’t capitalize. Instead, Morrison made the biggest play of the game and scored shorthanded with less than a minute to go in regulation.
Kiernan credited the Summit rally to “overconfidence” on Aspen’s part.
“You got to fail, you got to learn from it, reset and move forward,” he said. “It was good to get the win. Good for obviously our rankings moving forward. We got a big weekend with Battle and Regis.”
Wednesday’s game with Summit was the first league game of the season for No. 9 Aspen, which is 1-0-1 on the season. The Skiers next will host Battle Mountain on Friday night before defending state champion and No. 1 Regis Jesuit visits Lewis Ice Arena on Saturday afternoon.
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Aspen High School girls soccer coach Chris Ellis could have told you the team would be facing a strong opponent in the first round of the state playoffs well before the bracket was released on Sunday. With only a 16-team field this spring, any squad that found itself among those few had to be solid.