AHS hockey knocks off unbeaten Cheyenne Mountain

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Aspen High hockey team finally settled the score with Cheyenne Mountain.

Aspen avenged a 6-3 road loss to Cheyenne Mountain earlier this season with a 3-2 win Saturday at home at the Aspen Ice Garden. After all, Cheyenne Mountain is the same team that knocked AHS out of the playoffs in the semifinals last season en route to the state title.

Aspen, now 10-3 overall and 8-1 in Mountain Conference play, has overcome its biggest obstacle of the season – and just two teams remain in Aspen’s path to the playoffs.

Fresh off a 5-0 win over visiting Coronado on Friday night – and a difficult week of practice following two lackluster games last weekend – AHS was ready for its latest face-off against the unbeaten Cheyenne Mountain, said AHS coach Mark LeRose.

“We did have a difficult week of practice, but it definitely got their attention because they played to the top of their ability on Saturday,” the coach said.

Cheyenne Mountain – a team LeRose admits “really has no weaknesses” – was slowed on Saturday by a strong defensive effort against the team’s top player, LeRose said. The Cheyenne Mountain senior who tallied a hat trick in the 6-3 win over Aspen in Colorado Springs on Jan. 18 was marked by Aspen’s top three forwards: Joey Carlson, Lincoln Neiley and Jordan Friedland.

“Even though they didn’t get on the score sheet, they were the unsung heroes,” LeRose said.

Saturday’s goals were scored by senior forward Tim Hagist, with an assist from Jamie Walbert; senior Scott Tarbet, with assists from Sean French and Tyler Horn; and French, who showed “unbelievable poise” with a goal made with just three minutes left in the game, LeRose reported.

LeRose also credited time played by all three AHS goalies, including senior Jesse Amory. Cheyenne Mountain actually outshot Aspen 27 to 16, but Skier defense ensured those shots were unsuccessful.

“Jesse Amory had some unbelievable stops. At one point, we were shorthanded five on three [due to penalties], and he kept us in the game,” LeRose said.

The Cheyenne Mountain win will show in the Skiers’ confidence level, LeRose predicted.

“To this point, we haven’t beaten a top team,” he said. “It proves we have the potential – when we play as a team, when we play hard – we can beat anyone in this league.”

Hopefully, that confidence will take Aspen through the last three games of the season and into the 2003 playoffs. If AHS can dispatch opponents Steamboat Springs – on the road Feb. 7, then at home Feb. 14, and Regis at home Feb. 15 , the Skiers will enter the playoffs with an eight-game winning streak.

But LeRose isn’t ready to focus on the distant future.

“We’re not going to look past Steamboat,” the coach said. “Steamboat’s a good team with an outstanding goaltender. Regis is similar – good team, great goaltender. What I’d like to see is the momentum from the Cheyenne Mountain win carry through.”

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