Aspen stuns state’s top-ranked hockey team
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
ASPEN – Mighty No. 1 falls.
The Aspen High School hockey team used early offense to stun No.1-ranked Regis Jesuit, 4-2, on Saturday afternoon in front of a large and lively crowd at Lewis Ice Arena.
“Regis is a team I’ve looked to beat all four years in Aspen,” said Colter Robinson, who scored two goals for the Skiers.
“It’s really good to get them my senior year,” he said of the win over the defending state champions and the recent powerhouse of Colorado high school hockey.
Robinson scored one of three first-period goals for Aspen (11-8 overall, 8-6 in conference).
Ryan Fitzpatrick put the Skiers on the board just 1:40 into the game – assisted by Matt Ferguson and Sam Rappaport.
Robinson’s first goal came on a picture-perfect deflection on a shot by Nicky Cottrell from outside the circle to the right of the Regis Jesuit goalie with 4:18 to play in the opening period.
Ferguson pushed the lead to 3-0 when he poked in a loose puck, assisted by Rappaport.
Regis Jesuit, after being outshot 12-5 in the first period, went on the offensive in the second period with a barrage of shots on goal and two scores.
Brendan Barcley converted a power-play goal for the Raiders 49 seconds into the period. Teammate Kirk Underwood cut Aspen’s lead to 3-2 on a rebound goal midway through the second.
But after a pair of crowd-pleasing saves from goalie Alex Parrish, the Skiers answered with Robinson’s second goal and a 4-2 advantage on a quick counterattack out of the Raiders’ zone.
“Alex played awesome,” Robinson said of Parrish. “We couldn’t ask for anything more from him.”
Robinson, the son of Rob and Suzanne Robinson, said the Aspen defense has confidence because of Parrish’s play in net.
“He’s really turning it on going into the playoffs,” Robinson said. The Colorado High School Hockey League postseason is set to open next weekend.
Aspen and Regis (14-2-3, 7-2-3 in league) both will advance to the playoffs.
Garrett Goldsmith, one of nine Aspen seniors honored Saturday, gave credit to the home crowd in the emotional win.
“Our crowd has been strong all year,” said Goldsmith, the son of Frank and Cynthia Goldsmith. “A lot of teams come into the building and say they wish they had this (support). We’re super-excited to have them here.”
Goldsmith said the early offense was critical against the Raiders and goalie Bridger Haas, who grew up in the Aspen Junior Hockey program before the family relocated to the Denver area.
“I used to play with Nathan Haas, No. 21 (for Regis),” Goldsmith said of Bridger’s older brother, also a product of Aspen Junior Hockey. “He was on my team growing up.”
The Skiers outshot the Raiders 31-22 in a game that turned chippy in the third period when two Regis players drew game-misconduct penalties.
“The one thing we wanted to make sure we did was start fast,” said Aspen head coach Al Butler. “And we wanted to play with energy … get the pucks in deep.”
He said the Skiers had to take advantage of their early opportunities.
“When you’re playing one of the top teams in the state, you’ve got to start early. And we caught them a little flat-footed,” Butler said.
Defensive adjustments to counter the Regis power play also contributed to Saturday’s victory, he said.
He said the win will help the Skiers carry momentum into the playoffs. Aspen is seeking its first state hockey championship since 2007.
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Like most high school sports programs across the nation right now, Garfield County athletics directors are seeing fewer applicants for open coaching positions. Five years ago vacant positions were filled within just a couple of days.