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Aspen hockey loses overtime thriller

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jim Ryan contributed photoAspen players line up before Friday's game against Ralston Valley at Lewis Ice Arena.
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ASPEN – Aspen goalkeeper Zach Ware lay on the ice, sprawled out on his stomach for more than 30 seconds after the final buzzer sounded Saturday. Other Skiers hunched over as they skated off the ice, as if being punched in the gut.

Bishop Machebeuf’s Jesse Gasbarro dealt the blow. The junior forward scored with 16 seconds remaining in overtime to propel the Buffaloes to a 4-3 win.

“It was an obvious breakdown, linemen just throwing the puck away,” Aspen head coach Al Butler said. “It was pretty much almost the identical play [as Friday].”

The Skiers (7-4-2 overall, 5-3 5A Foothills) surrendered a game-tying goal to Ralston Valley in the final second of the first period Friday night, and wound up losing, 3-1. A late-period gaffe cost them again, less than 24 hours later.

With seconds remaining in the eight-minute overtime period, Machebeuf gained control of the puck and flooded the Aspen zone. When one Buffaloes forward skated up the left side, multiple Skiers converged on him. Gasbarro found an opening in front of the net and one-timed a pass past Ware, who was caught out of position.

It was a heavy blow for the Skiers, who squandered two leads in the game.

Forward James Pardee chased down the puck and scored a shorthanded goal with 5 minutes, 22 seconds to play during an opening period in which the two teams combined for 11 penalties.

After Machebeuf’s Max Prendergast squared the game on a power play just 34 seconds into the second period, Pardee struck again. He beat Buffaloes goalkeeper Michael Stef on an assist from Bo Writer to give Aspen a 2-1 advantage.

This seesaw battle took another turn, as Machebeuf scored twice during one-minute span to seize the lead six minutes before the second intermission.

Less than three minutes later, Michael Ryerson fired a shot from just inside the blue line that was tapped in by Taylor Mayer, knotting the game.

Both squads had opportunities to break the deadlock during the final 15 minutes of regulation – none bigger than, with 10 minutes remaining, when Prendergast had a breakaway. But Ware and Stef turned away all 14 shots on goal during the third period.

Ware was not as fortunate in overtime.

“This was a pivotal weekend, to show us whether we were in that first, elite group … or in the middle of the pack,” Butler said. “This conference right now is really up in the air. On any given night, if you don’t come to play you can get beat. … We have to be prepared every time out.

“It comes down to the fact that we don’t quite have the firepower, and we’re not making teams pay for their mistakes.”

The Skiers will look to rebound next weekend when they host Monarch (Friday, 6 p.m.) and Fountain Valley (Saturday, 4 p.m.).


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