Aspen High hockey takes care of Doherty for weekend sweep

Doherty's Tanner Chapman is knocked from his skates by an Aspen High School player during Saturday's game at Lewis Ice Arena. The Skiers won, 6-2.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times |

The start to the season was challenging, to say the least, for the Aspen High School hockey team. The schedule included two teams currently ranked in the top three in the state — one being top-ranked Regis Jesuit, the defending state champion — leading to a 1-5-1 record entering this weekend.

However, it is hardly uncharted territory for the Skiers. At least in recent years, the team has faced a demanding early-season schedule before finding its groove after the holidays. Last season, AHS started 3-7 prior to making the state tournament and finishing 10-9.

“It’s been the same for the past few years, just that little rough patch at the beginning,” Aspen junior R.J. Peshek said. “But usually we find it and start playing our own game.”

Backs against the wall entering Friday’s home game with Pine Creek (2-7-1), the Skiers dominated the game 6-0 behind two goals each from Jack Pevny and Joel Rothman. Saturday, Aspen faced winless Doherty at Lewis Ice Arena, cruising to a 6-2 victory.

Aspen also had defeated Doherty 3-0 on Dec. 14, its only win before Friday.

“It was a perfect scenario where we’ve been stressing we need to get more goals, and we were able to get 12 in two games,” AHS coach Dru Lucchesi said. “They are starting to see the ice better. They are spreading the ice a lot more. And you can tell because they are giving themselves more time in the offensive zone.”

Saturday’s rematch with Doherty wasn’t much of a contest. Aspen jumped out to a 4-0 lead and led 5-1 after a period. Sophomore Dom Lanese had two of the five goals, the other three coming from Reece Cohan, Max Ufkes and Pevny.

“That was huge. We needed a quick start,” Rothman said of the team’s fiery first period. “I feel like our lines started working better together. We all just started talking. I definitely think if we keep this up we could go pretty far.”

The teams scored a goal each in the second period — Rothman scoring for the Skiers — before an intense but scoreless third period finished the game out.

At 3-5-1 overall, the Skiers hardly find themselves near the top of any food chain. Although, Aspen is 3-1-1 in the Peak Conference, the only loss coming to Battle Mountain early in the season, the same team it tied with last week at the Ice Garden.

“Every year is kind of this way. We go on a tear in January and we just want to keep it going,” Lucchesi said. “Two games aren’t enough. We have two more home games next weekend that we need to take care of.”

Aspen will remain in conference play this week when it hosts Heritage (6-3) on Friday and Cheyenne Mountain (6-4) on Saturday. Both teams are unranked but receiving votes in the latest poll.