Aspen U-19s toppled in 3OT shootout vs. DU

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

In a triple overtime sudden-death shootout last Sunday in Denver, the Aspen under-19 girls hockey team’s bid for an unprecedented fourth-straight state title was halted by nemesis Denver University.

Entering the seven-team U-19 state tourney as the No. 1 seed, Aspen suffered a 3-1 loss to DU in the semifinals of the double-elimination tourney, meaning Aspen had to go through the back door to earn another shot at DU, the only team to beat Aspen during the regular season ” by shootout no less.

And once in the finals, according to the double-elimination format, Aspen had to beat DU not once, but twice.

The first “final” went Aspen’s way 3-1, on goals from Dylan Braun, Caitlin Dunn and Maddy D’Amato, assisted by Braun and Carly Magill. But that only served to even the score, with Aspen and DU with one loss apiece, and set the stage for a “final-final” for the state crown.

“Going into that game, we had momentum on our side,” said Wily Manering, who coaches the U-19s with Pete Whitmore, Dan Johns and John French. “The only thing that wasn’t on our side was that it was going to be our third game in four hours.”

Aspen beat the Colorado Selects 4-1 in its opening game on Saturday, with goals from Elizabeth Severy (assisted by sister Christy), Braun (assisted by Alia Strong and Reilly Gallagher), Katrina DeVore (assisted by D’Amato) and Gallagher (assisted by Braun).

Then came the loss to DU, with Braun scoring Aspen’s only goal.

At 8 a.m. Sunday morning, Aspen again beat the Selects, 3-1, with goals from Gallagher, Elizabeth Severy and D’Amato, to earn another shot at DU.

And once the first victory over DU was secured, Aspen mounted its charge to finish off the championship.

“We were into our third game of hockey at 12:30,” said Manering. “That’s a lotta hockey.

“But the emotion was so high out there. Fans, parents, everyone arguing with each other.”

Aspen went up 1-0 in the second period on a one-timer Braun goal, assisted on a beautiful pass from Gallagher from behind the net, Manering said.

“We’re carrying the play, but it’s really up and back and the crowd’s going crazy with the big saves both these goalies are making,” said Manering, including Aspen goalie Teagan Walter.

DU answered with a short-handed goal to tie the score at 1-1. “Helluva effort,” Manering said, and then the game entered and exited a five-minute overtime period still locked in a tie.

“We had our chances, and we didn’t capitalize,” Manering said. “We worked our butts off … and their goalie is making saves on her head. We hit a post, did everything; couldn’t get it by her. Teagan played equally well, but she wasn’t tested as much.”

The stalemate pushed the championship to a five-girl shootout, with Aspen shooting second.

Aspen’s Walter made a “major-league glove save” to stop DU’s first shooter, Manering said, “showing everybody in the place what kind of ice she has running through her veins.”

DU’s second shooter, however, scored, while Elizabeth Severy clanked her shot, as the No. 2 shooter, off the post. But Aspen’s Walter saved the remainder of shots, pushing the title to a tie-or-die situation for D’Amato, the final Aspen shooter.

“We have one player left ” and it’s Maddy,” Manering said. “And she’s been working on a shot, a backhander, because we all know we’ve got to deke their goalie. And she goes in and cleanly beats her to tie the score at 1-1.”

D’Amato’s clutch goal pushed the championship to a third OT, this time a sudden-death shootout.

Walter blocked the first DU attempt, but Aspen’s shooter had her shot blocked too.

Then the second DU shooter beat Walter for a goal, and Aspen’s shooter failed to answer ” game over.

“In effect, it’s a 2-1 loss,” said Manering.

“Exciting, exciting, exciting,” he sighed. “It was wild. People were crying. You haven’t seen a game like this. Two top, top hockey clubs. A battle. Unbelievable showing of Colorado girls U-19 hockey.

“We came within millimeters of a fourth state championship. We had every chance, and that’s why you put the skates on,” Manering continued.