AHS hockey hosts regular season
With no games scheduled for last weekend, the Aspen High hockey team utilized the time off honing its power-play and penalty-killing packages, and enduring extensive off-ice workouts.
The AHS team also went to see “Miracle,” the new movie about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that stunned the world with upsets of Russia and Finland en route to the gold medal.
“They loved it,” Dennis Maruk, the Aspen coach, said of the film. “And it was good motivation for them, too, seeing the value of hard work and selfless team play.”
Hard work and unselfishness, actually, have been the central themes that Maruk ” a former NHL player of 15 years and first-year Aspen coach ” has tried to instill in the Skiers all season.
Tonight and Saturday, when Aspen hosts Steamboat Springs and Rampart at the Lewis Ice Arena in the final two games of the regular season, the Skiers again will be challenged to manifest those qualities.
Face off tonight against Steamboat is scheduled for 6 p.m. On Saturday against Rampart, the puck drops at 5:30 p.m.
“We’re hoping to work well as a team, be strong at both ends of the ice and cut down on our mistakes,” said Maruk. “We’ve got to get ready for the playoffs so we obviously want to work on some things that can produce goals too. And we want to work on, fine-tune, all the elements that might arise in playoff hockey.”
At 11-4 overall on the season, Aspen is guaranteed a berth in the 16-team Colorado state high school playoffs. However, where Aspen is seeded in that field remains in part to be determined this weekend.
On the road against Steamboat Jan. 17, Aspen scored a goal in the last minute to force overtime, then scored in the final minute of the sudden-death period to escape Routt County with a 4-3 win. Steamboat, now 9-6-1, promises to be looking for pay back.
“It’s going to be a tight game,” said Maruk. “The teams are pretty equal, and they have a great goalie that has lifted them up before.”
Rampart, in comparison, at 4-13 on the season, suffered a 6-1 defeat to Aspen on Jan. 30 in Colorado Springs. Aspen will be short-handed, with several younger Skiers traveling to play with the Aspen Midget Minor team, but Maruk isn’t too concerned.
“We’ll have 12 or 13 players, the older guys mostly, so we’ll be short ” but I also think we’ll be OK,” he said.
As for the playoffs, Aspen stands to garner a top-six seed, possibly higher, depending on how the other top teams fare this weekend. Entering the weekend, Battle Mountain owns the state’s best record at 16-1, followed by Liberty (14-3), Kent Denver (11-3), Air Academy (14-4), Aspen (11-4), Regis (10-5-1) and Machebeuf (10-6).
“I don’t know what will happen, but anywhere in the top six, for us being a young team, I would think says we’ve done a pretty good job,” the coach said.
The state playoffs are scheduled for Feb. 20-21, with the state championships slated for Feb. 27-28.
Mikaela Shiffrin did a lot of soul searching after she didn’t win a medal and didn’t finish three of her five individual races at last year’s Beijing Olympics after entering the games amid enormous expectations.