Column: Aspen Leafs’ standout gets call up
The Aspen Times
Notes and names on a snowy winter day:
BONDARENKO GETS THE CALL
The Russian jet of the Aspen Leafs’ team in the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League is so fast, he skated right out of the league.
Ivan Bondarenko, the speedy and skilled skater from Moscow, got the call this week. Bondarenko was summoned by the Janesville Jets of the North American Hockey League.
The North American league is the only USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier II hockey league in the United States. It’s the primary hockey steppingstone into the NCAA programs.
Last season, the 22-team North American Hockey League sent 210 players to NCAA program across the country.
Seven NAHL players were selected in the 2015 NHL Selection Draft.
Bondarenko left an indelible hockey imprint on Aspen in the first season of the Aspen Leafs’ Junior A team.
Through 18 games, Bondarenko led the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League with 24 goals and 31 assists. That’s a mind-bending 55 points in 18 games.
He flashed his exceptional quickness and puck-handling skills in the confines of the Aspen Ice Garden for most of his Rocky Mountain league games.
But Bondarenko drew a special hockey audience for his midmorning practice sessions on the larger surface of the Lewis Ice Arena at the Aspen Recreation Center.
Many longtime hockey veterans said Bondarenko is one of the fastest players ever to hit the ice in Aspen.
“He is extremely skilled and a piece we feel should fit nicely into our puzzle,” Janesville Jets assistant coach Cody Campbell said. “The (Aspen) Leafs staff has done a great job developing Ivan this year. I wouldn’t be shocked if you see more and more players getting the call to higher levels out of that organization.”
VOLLEYBALL’S ALL STARS
Quietly signaling the elevation of the Aspen High School volleyball program under head coach Matt Bergdahl, four members of the 2015 Skiers team earned all-conference recognition this season.
Three Aspen seniors were honored in voting by the Western Slope League coaches.
Katy Miller was voted to the all-league first team. Kendall Anderson and Nicole Bramson, two more AHS seniors, were voted all-league honorable mention.
Aspen High School freshman Mary Williams also was voted all-conference by the league’s coaches. Williams was one of only two freshmen named all-league. The other was Shaya Chenoweth of Grand Valley.
Kaitlyn Detlefson of Coal Ridge was voted the player of the year; Aimee Gerber, also of Coal Ridge, was named the coach of the year after leading the Titans to the final eight of the Class 3A State Volleyball Championships.
Dana Kotz and Nicole Mooney, two Coal Ridge juniors, also were voted all-league.
Roaring Fork seniors Madilyn Kuhl and Grace Brown won all-league honors this season. Lily Ramos, a Roaring Fork junior, was named to the honorable-mention team.
Grand Valley was represented by Chenoweth, senior Allie Dovey and junior Kylyn Rigsby on the all-league team.
Olathe’s all-leaguers included senior Audrey Stansberry and junior Kacy Henwood.
Junior Shay Percival of Gunnison and junior Mattie Jo Duzik of Moffat County rounded out the all-conference squad this year.
David Stapleton is the development officer for the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. A product of the club, AVSC sat down with Stapleton for a Q&A session in this week’s Clubhouse Chronicles.