Aspen’s Peewee A’s and Bantam B’s make finals
Aspen’s junior hockey teams rebounded in the second weekend of the 11th annual Aspen Fall Face-Off, as both the Aspen Peewee A’s and Bantam B’s earned trips to the finals Sunday.The Peewee A squad lost to Littleton 2-1 in the championship game Sunday afternoon, while the Bantam B’s, in the game immediately after, fell 4-2 to Arvada. None of the Aspen Junior Hockey team advanced to the finals in the opening weekend of play Oct. 29-31.A total of 60 games were played this weekend between Friday morning and Sunday evening, as teams from all over Colorado (and one from Dallas and another from Wyoming) went head to head in four divisions – Midget A, Squirt C, Peewee A and Bantam B.The Aspen Peewee A’s, which is unbeaten on the season and swept the field in the opening rounds of the tournament, got off to a rocky start in the finals when star defenseman Andrew Papenfus fell ill on the bench.”Losing a player like him didn’t help,” said tournament director and Aspen Peewee A assistant coach Tim Ware. Aspen’s Peewee A team was already thin with a roster of only 12 players – the smallest in the division.
Down by a goal in the final minutes of the third period, Aspen was hit with the penalty bug. Back-to-back calls gave Littleton a two-man advantage with three minutes remaining in the game, which ultimately solidified their victory. Aspen’s lone goal came from Ryan Gauthier.”We made too many mistakes,” Ware said. “But we played a good game.”Aspen’s Bantam B’s, a team that was formed earlier this week, was down 3-0 with just over two minutes remaining in the third period before Logan Tierney scored. And when Daniel Doremus scored for Aspen less than a minute later, an unlikely comeback seemed entirely possible as Aspen was down 3-2 and 1 minute, 36 seconds remaining.But with 58 seconds remaining, an errantpass at mid-ice gave Littleton an easy open-net goal and a 4-2 lead, which they wouldn’t surrender.”It’s something these guys have made a habit of – coming from behind,” said Chuck Kessler, who doubles as Aspen’s Bantam A and B head coach. “The tougher the game gets, the better these guys seem to get.”
Kessler was impressed his team even made it to the finals since it was formed so late. He pointed to Carl Spiroff, Kevin Fraizer, Tucker Danell, Bo Writer, Dawson Aahasic and goalie Frederick Newton as key components in the formation of the Bantam B team. Furthermore, he said Tommy Mines stepped up big.”He was asked to overachieve and he showed huge leadership,” Kessler said. “He did everything a coach could ask him to do.”Aspen’s Midget A team finished with an 0-3-1 record on the weekend, while the Squirt C squad was winless at 0-4.Summit beat Dallas 6-5 in the Midget A championship, and Arapahoe beat Denver University 4-0 for the Squirt C title.While Aspen has yet to hoist a first place trophy this tournament, there is one weekend of hockey remaining. Fifteen girls teams in three divisions will face off next weekend, including Aspen’s U-12, U-14 and U-19 squads. Several Mite teams (under 8 years old) will also compete.
With a total of 128 games completed so far through two of three Face-Off weekends, Ware said none of it would have been possible without the help of volunteers and parents.”They’re responsible for every one of those games,” Ware said, adding that many parents were at the rink at 5 a.m. and didn’t leave until after 1 a.m. “I can’t say enough about how the parents stepped up.”Steve Benson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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Aspen’s Cassidy Jarrell was bumped up to the U.S. freeski A team for this coming winter season, which remains in limbo as coronavirus cases rise across the country.