AHS expects battle from Battle Mt.
Aspen Times Staff Writer
As a recent Colorado transplant, Dennis Maruk made his debut as Aspen High’s head hockey coach knowing little about his own team, even less about his teams’ opponents.
So when Aspen lost its season opener, 5-2 at Vail’s Battle Mountain on Dec. 3, the rookie coach took the defeat in stride. After all, Maruk, a 15-year NHL veteran and two-time All-Star, knows hockey.
“The next time we play them, we’ll certainly be a better hockey team,” Maruk told the Times after the defeat.
“We just didn’t gel tonight. We’ve gotta cut down on our mistakes and turnovers, and I think we’ll do that and we’ll be fine.”
Since those comments, Maruk has guided the AHS Skiers to seven consecutive victories.
And tonight, Aspen (7-1) will be looking for No. 8 in a rematch against Battle Mountain (6-1). Faceoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. (a half hour later than originally planned) at the Lewis Ice Arena.
“I think some of our players were nervous that first game, a little uptight, but we’ve worked on that and we’re 7 and O since,” Maruk said yesterday.
“In the last month, we’ve really worked on playing as a team and I think that’s shown itself with some pretty high scoring games.”
In Aspen’s final two games before the holiday break, the Skiers outscored opponents by a total of 13-1. After a week and a half off, Aspen resumed practicing last Friday and Maruk says the team is fired up to redeem themselves.
“I’m looking forward to it and I know the kids are too,” Maruk said. “This is for first place [in the standings], it’s in our building and it’s a great opportunity for us against a team we have plenty of incentive to get after.”
Look for senior linemates Lincoln Neiley and Sean French to figure into the Aspen attack, and junior goalie Oliver Martineau to shore up the Skiers defense, Maruk said.
Absent from the lineup, serving one-game suspensions from a fight before the break, will be sophomore David Goldberg and junior Tad Norris, a linemate with Neiley and French.
Since winning her first X Games medal in 2019 — slopestyle gold — the now 21-year-old Kiwi has become the most dominant force in the discipline.