Cheyenne Mountain powers on, beats Aspen hockey in 4A state quarterfinals
There was no rally this time around.
When the Aspen High School hockey team fell behind against top-seeded Cheyenne Mountain in the Class 4A state quarterfinals on Monday in Colorado Springs, the much larger Red-Tailed Hawks didn’t sit around and play with their food, instead flying away to an 8-1 win inside the Sertich Ice Center.
The loss ends the Skiers’ season at 8-11-1 overall, their best campaign since going 14-5-3 in the 2017-18 winter.
No. 1 seed Cheyenne Mountain, now 18-2 overall, moves on to face No. 4 seed Steamboat Springs in the 4A semifinals on Thursday at the University of Denver’s Magness Arena.
No. 3 Colorado Academy beat No. 6 Kent Denver in the other quarterfinal on Monday, 4-3. No. 2 Battle Mountain and No. 10 Crested Butte play each other Tuesday night in the fourth quarterfinal in a rematch of last year’s championship game, which the Huskies won.
This year’s championship game is March 8 at Ball Arena.
“We came out excited, we came out nervous, but once it settled in, the guys started playing our brand of hockey,” Cheyenne Mountain coach Erik Austin told CHSAANow.com after the game. “We were sharing the puck, moving the puck and having fun doing it.”
Aspen, the 10-team tournament’s No. 8 seed, came into Monday’s rematch having beaten No. 9 Liberty on Thursday in their play-in game, 4-2. AHS opened its season back on Dec. 6 at Cheyenne Mountain, losing 4-3 after twice rallying from three-goal deficits only to run out of time. The Hawks made sure that didn’t happen again.
Noah Bonnett got things going with a goal midway through the first period for Cheyenne Mountain, the start of a five-goal performance from the senior wing. Still 1-0 entering the second period, that’s when the game unraveled for the Skiers. The Hawks scored four times in the period — all within a roughly five-minute window — with Bonnett scoring three of those. It was 5-0 Hawks going into the second intermission.
Aspen’s lone goal came barely a minute into the third period from Charles Rondeau, with an assist from Lars Earl, but Cheyenne Mountain came back with three more goals to close — including the fifth from Bonnett — and fully shut the door on the Skiers.
“All my linemates, I got into position to where they could give me the puck and they got into positions where I could give them the puck,” Bonnett told CHSAANow.com. “We were creating space and opportunities and luckily we were able to bury a few.”
A relatively clean game from a penalty perspective, the teams went a combined 0-for-5 on power plays and Cheyenne Mountain outshot Aspen 35-17 for the game, although AHS had a 6-5 shot advantage after the first period.
Nick Hallee had four assists for Cheyenne Mountain, which is chasing its first state title since 2014. The Hawks lost to Crested Butte in the semifinals a season ago.
For AHS athletics, the last team still standing among the winter sports is boys basketball. Seeded No. 3 entering the Class 3A state tournament, the undefeated Skiers host No. 30 Denver West at 7 p.m. Friday in the first round. Should Aspen win, it would host the Round of 16 game on Saturday night.
Spring sports practice officially got underway on Monday, with competition starting as soon as next week for some teams.
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Katelyn Maley’s trophy shelf is getting quite crowded. The Basalt High School junior added to her collection on Saturday by winning the Class 3A girls 800-meter run at the CHSAA state championship meet at Jefferson County Stadium.