Aspen hockey wins 7th straight

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Senior Reid Hansen scored a hat trick to lead Aspen High hockey to a 6-3, come-from-behind win over Steamboat Springs Friday night at the Aspen Ice Garden.

Aspen, 11-3 overall and 9-1 in Mountain Conference play, rode “senior leadership” to their seventh straight victory, coach Mark LeRose said.

“I challenged ’em to step it up and they did. Earlier in the season, we weren’t getting that senior leadership, but it was an unbelievable performance Friday night,” LeRose said.

Aspen outshot Steamboat in the first period but still entered the second trailing 2-1. That’s when senior goalie Jesse Amory took over for sophomore Julien Hernandez, and LeRose challenged his veteran players.

“We went into the locker room knowing we weren’t playing very well, and in the second period, six points [and four goals] came from seniors, and Jesse Amory came in and played very well,” LeRose said. “It was an impressive turnaround.”

Scott Tarbet scored two goals and, combined with Hansen’s second and third goals and two assists from Joey Carlson and one from Tim Hagist, Aspen blew open the game and entered the third period with a 5-2 advantage. Sean French, a junior, scored Aspen’s final goal in the third.

Two games remain on Aspen’s regular season schedule: at Steamboat on Friday, then home on Saturday at 6 p.m. vs. Regis. Saturday’s game will serve as Aspen’s 2003 season finale at the Ice Garden as well as the team’s “Senior Night.”

“We’ve put ourselves in the position we wanted to be – to finish strong. And after a tough start, I think we were 3-3 at one point, we set a goal to finish at 13-3 and here we are at 11-3 with a chance to do that,” LeRose said.

If Aspen wins out, they’re likely to enter the 16-team, single-elimination state tournament with a top-four seed, LeRose said. The other top contenders include Battle Mountain, Kent Denver and Cheyenne Mountain, the only teams to beat Aspen this season.

The playoffs open Feb. 21-22.