Aspen hockey ousted from state playoffs
CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Aspen clung to a 3-2 lead with little more than a minute remaining and appeared poised to finish on top in Friday’s state tournament opener in Centennial.Circumstances changed in an instant.Ninth-seeded Rampart scored late to square the game and force extra time. After a scoreless first overtime, the Rams struck once more, sneaking a shot past Skiers goaltender Zack Ware about four minutes into the second extra period to seal a dramatic 4-3 win.”It’s tough to lose a game like that,” Skiers head coach Al Butler said. “It’d be a different story if they dominated us. We took it to them pretty good for a while and didn’t quite get rewarded for it.”Eighth-seeded Aspen (11-7-2), which outshot Rampart, 27-19, struck first four minutes into the second period. Cody Horn controlled the puck in the corner, skated out toward the slot and fired a strong wrist shot past Rams goaltender Broch Vosburgh. Rampart responded soon after, scoring twice in 1 minute, 25 seconds. Daniel Fullerton connected off an assist from Matt Avila on a power play, then Seth Makey converted a shorthanded goal. The seesaw game swung the Skiers’ way in the final four minutes of the second period. James Pardee and Bo Writer executed a give-and-go as they sped up the ice, then Writer made a move on net, caught Vosburgh out of position-and scored. In the final minute, Coby Langley skated up the left side, stopped and fired a powerful shot that beat Vosburgh high on the glove side, giving Aspen the 3-2 advantage.”We brought a lot of effort and heart tonight,” Butler said. “The kids played hard. That was probably our best game of the year.”It was one Butler was sure the Skiers would pull out late in the third. While his team was understandably taken aback when Fullerton squared the game with 1 minute, 22 seconds remaining in regulation, Butler said they did not lose their fight.”We put some pretty good pressure on them on that next shift before overtime,” the coach added. “It’s not like there was a letdown after that goal. They came back and tried to win before overtime.”Aspen could not produce the game winner in the closing seconds of regulation, or in the first overtime. In the second, the Rams finally broke through on a goal from Kevin Franklin. “There was kind of a scramble in front of the net,” Butler said. “They flew a puck on the net, and it went through the traffic and somehow found a way in.”Rampart advances to today’s quarterfinals and will face off with top-seeded Regis Jesuit, an 8-1 winner over Kent Denver in other action Friday.The Skiers, meanwhile, came up short in their bid for a second title in four seasons.”They did everything we asked them to do,” Butler said. “Tough way to go.”email@example.com
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