Aspen hockey hosts Peak to Peak
ASPEN If he gets his way, Aspen High hockey coach Al Butler said their won’t be much of a ceremony Friday when the banner commemorating last season’s state championship team is unveiled at Lewis Ice Arena.The Skiers celebrated plenty last year, and now that a new season is under way, it’s time to look forward, not back, Butler said.The coach knows that’s easier said than done.Last Friday’s season opener against Battle Mountain in Breckenridge underlined that point as the Skiers – ranked No. 1 in the state – came out flat in a 2-1 loss to second-ranked Battle Mountain.”To put it bluntly, I think all the players thought all we had to do was show up on the ice and the other team was going to forfeit the game,” Butler said. “I think we learned our lesson.”Aspen found itself down, 2-0, after two lackluster periods before Kyle Langley punched in a goal off a deflected Simon Dolginow shot with 30 seconds remaining.The following morning, against rival Summit, Aspen came out with a different energy and unloaded six pucks into the net in a 6-3 win. The Skiers followed with a 4-0 drubbing of Steamboat Springs on Saturday afternoon to improve to 2-1 heading into Friday’s home opener against Peak to Peak.”Obviously with those two wins Saturday we made some big strides,” said Butler, who guided a senior-laden team to the school’s first state hockey championship in February. “We made some line changes from the first game that seemed to help us out … It was good for us to have that happen for us early. They realize they need to work hard to get to where they need to be.”Of the six seniors Aspen lost, five of those were forwards. The other was goalie Cody Hornburg – the most valuable player at the 5A state tournament. With so many holes to fill up front, Butler said he expected a learning curve. There’s plenty of talent, just not a lot of experience. “It’s always a case when you first get started trying to get a feel for the line combinations,” Butler said. “We’ve started to find some stuff that works well … That first game there were just a lot of nerves, a lot of the kids holding their sticks a little too tight. By the time they got to the third game they realized they could compete.”Sophomore Daniel Doremus has been the most productive offensive player for the Skiers thus far. He scored two goals in each of Aspen’s wins and added two assists against Summit. Senior Tyler Moore also had a goal in each of Aspen’s wins plus an assist against Steamboat Springs. Senior Gaelen Means and sophomore Cody Horn also scored for Aspen.In the net, Butler is still weighing his options between three different players: sophomore Zach Ware, junior Alex Owen and senior Remy Pearlstone.Each got a start last weekend, and Butler said he’s giving all of the players a chance “to see who emerges.”As a whole, the Skiers – whose strength is on defense – could certainly learn a few things from Peak to Peak (2-1). The Pumas won the state championship two years ago, then followed it up by going 10-10 last season – losing twice to a hungry Aspen team.Butler wants the Skiers to play like the underdogs they were last season, not defending champs. It’s one of the reasons he’s downplaying tonight’s banner ceremony.”I think we have good senior leadership,” he said. “After the first game they got the players together and had a team-only meeting. I think they realize that they need to play hard every single game if they want to have a chance at repeating.”email@example.com
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