Aspen High hockey beats Heritage 4-1 to advance in state tournament

The Aspen High School hockey team beat Heritage 4-1 on Friday in the second round of the state tournament in Littleton.
John Rigney/courtesy photo

It took three games, but the Aspen High School hockey team finally figured out a way to beat Heritage. In Friday’s playoff game at The Ice Ranch in Littleton, the 11th-seeded Skiers pulled off a 4-1 upset of the No. 6 seed Eagles to advance to Saturday’s state quarterfinals.

“They did what they were suppose to do,” AHS coach Dru Lucchesi said. “They stuck to the game plan and it showed. It’s a game plan we should have used two other times when we played against them. Just keep it simple. They played well. It was a good game. A fun game to be a part of.”

The Peak Conference rivals first played Jan. 19 at Lewis Ice Arena, the game ending in a 2-2 tie. They played again Feb. 10 at The Ice Ranch, Heritage escaping with a 3-2 overtime victory.

Friday’s playoff game was never really close.

Aspen led 1-0 after an early goal from Jamison Fuentes, then made it 2-0 with a Robbie Fitzgerald power-play goal as time was about to expire in the first period.

Max Ufkes made it 3-0 midway through the second period, and Fitzgerald added an empty-netter in the third shortly after Heritage had gotten on the board.

“It was just execution,” Lucchesi said. “They didn’t mess around with the puck. They got rid of it early. Stuff we’ve been working on. They just bought in. They are starting to trust themselves. It’s fun to see.”

Gage Redman had 24 saves in net for the Skiers.

Aspen next will play No. 3 seed Valor Christian at 5 p.m. Saturday at The Ice Ranch. Valor won 6-1 over No. 14 seed Pueblo County on Friday.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” Lucchesi said. “They are a pretty skilled team. They run similar systems to what we run. So it’s going to be one of those games where whoever executes best and whoever does the simple things and gives up less mistakes is going to win. If we take care of that biscuit I think we’ll be OK.”

The winner of Saturday’s game will move onto Thursday’s state semifinals at the Pepsi Center in Denver. AHS hockey has one state title in school history, coming in 2007.