AHS hockey opens league play on road
After a strong showing last weekend in Steamboat Springs to start the season, the Aspen High hockey team heads to the Front Range to open league play tonight against Coronado in Colorado Springs.On Saturday in Denver, Aspen faces off with Kent Denver, the team that knocked the Skiers out of the state tourney in the quarterfinals last year.Aspen enters its fifth season in the state high school league with a legacy as one of the most dominant teams in Colorado, a perennial state tournament squad. Last year, Aspen finished at 12-4 overall.And expectations remain high for this season, according to Bryan Ganz, the executive director of Aspen Junior Hockey and the first-year head coach of the AHS team.”We’ve been one of the top teams and we expect to keep it that way,” said Ganz. “And right now, I think we’re playing really well.”Aspen beat Steamboat Springs 4-1 last Friday in a non-league game as part of a tournament. And on Saturday, Aspen lost to Vail’s Battle Mountain 4-2 in another non-league game.”We played really strong against Steamboat – the shots were 26 to 7 after the second period, so we dominated,” said Ganz. “Battle Mountain was kind of an odd game. Both teams ended up taking a lot of penalties in the first period – we were shorthanded four different times – but we still came out of the first period with a 1-0 lead.”But with a penalty-filled game, it’s hard to get into a rhythm,” Ganz continued.Battle Mountain scored in the second to tie the game at 1-1, then scored two quick goals in the third to take command.Junior JoJo Hernandez and sophomore Kody Hornburg will be splitting time in goal for Aspen, Ganz said. And look for captain Tad Norris, a senior center, and assistant captains Jordan Friedland, a senior winger, and Jon Cavaleri, a senior defenseman, to play prominent roles for the Skier icemen.”But we’re trying to create three balanced lines,” said Ganz, “so we don’t have to rely on one or two guys. We want a consistent effort from the entire team.”We definitely have some play-makers on each of those lines, but we’re really going for consistency. And every game, I think it’s going to be somebody different who steps up.”The nucleus of the Aspen team has been skating with Aspen Junior Hockey club teams since Sept. 1. And while the team counts only a half-dozen seniors, a majority of the players – juniors and sophomores – have extensive varsity experience.This weekend, Ganz hopes the team can make a statement.”Typically Kent Denver is a powerhouse – year in, year out a strong team,” said Ganz. “It’ll be a good test for our team to see where we’re at. And to me, this is a big game, a good way to set the stage for the rest of the season.”Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
David Stapleton is the development officer for the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. A product of the club, AVSC sat down with Stapleton for a Q&A session in this week’s Clubhouse Chronicles.