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Aspen Squirt C’s triumphant in Pueblo

Aspen Times Staff ReportAspen, CO Colorado

PUEBLO, Colo. Aspen Junior hockey’s Squirt C team outlasted Steamboat Springs in the championship game of the Continental Divide Youth Hockey League playoffs Sunday in Pueblo.By virtue of the win, Aspen will play in Saturday’s state championship tournament in Denver.Aspen, comprised of 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds, and the double-elimination tournament’s second seed, lost its opening game to Steamboat, 2-1. It rebounded, blanking Glenwood Springs, 5-0.Goalie Andy Vernier shut out No. 1 Pueblo, which had not lost a game all season, and Aspen pulled out the 1-0 victory in Game 3, setting up a rematch with Steamboat. The drama was just beginning. Steamboat took a two-goal lead into the first intermission. Not to be outdone, Aspen responded with five unanswered goals to hand Steamboat its first loss and force a deciding fifth game. Aspen struck first in the final minute of the deciding game’s first period with what proved to be the game and the league title winner.”This was the best effort of the season,” head coach Rick Newton said in a news release. “All three lines scored, and the defensive lines contributed on both ends of the ice.”In other action, Aspen’s U12 and U12 girls teams both won the Mountain States Girls Hockey League state championships in Aspen this past weekend. MP2’s sink Steamboat in doubleheaderAspen’s MP2 women’s hockey team made Friday’s trip to Steamboat Springs one to remember, outscoring their opponents, 6-1, and pulling off the doubleheader sweep.The MP2’s got off to a strong start Friday night, shutting out the Steamboat Edge, 4-0. Basalt’s Emily McConnell scored off an assist from El Jebel’s Julie Cox and Rachel Dayton in the first, then Basalt’s Molly Jones stretched the lead to two in the second on a pass from Aspen’s Erin Whitlock. McConnell returned the favor in the third, assisting on Cox’s goal.”We passed and communicated well and used the big ice to our advantage,” Gleason said in a news release. Aspen controlled the puck for most of the game and outshot the Edge, 33-6.That trend did not continue Saturday morning, however. The Storm jumped out to the early first-period advantage after a squib shot found the net. That lead held up until the game’s final five minutes.Snowmass’ Katherine Gleason squared the game with a goal off a face-off. Then, with 37 seconds to play, Kessler sealed the win. “There was heavy traffic in the slot,” Kessler said, “and I saw an opening and fired it in between the post and goalie’s pad.”Aspen goalie Amy Goldman turned away 19 of the Storm’s 20 shots for the MP2s, who improved to 8-3. The two team’s will face off again at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Aspen Ice Garden.Admission is free and open to the public.