Feisty NHL Alumni KO Trash

Steve Benson
Sailing one past NHL All Star goal keeper Bill Ranford (30), Aspen's Keith Howie (11) ties the dscore 4-4 during second period action at Lewis Ice Arena Saturday evening April 10, 2004. The NHL Alumni Celebrity All-stars defeated the Aspen Trashmen in the Spring Meltdown Charity hockey game 7-5. Proceeds from the hockey game beneifit the Aspen Junior Hockey League. Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.

You don’t get to the National Hockey League without being competitive.

And apparently, that trait sticks, even well into retirement.

In front of a packed Lewis Ice Arena on Saturday night, the Trashmen of Aspen gave the NHL Alumni All-Stars all they could handle, losing 7-5.

What started as a seemingly friendly and cordial match between aging ex-NHL heroes and mostly younger, former-college-hockey locals, turned into a heated, intense contest by the third period.

“It was a pretty fun game,” said Trashmen forward Dennis Maruk, a former NHL All-Star who now coaches for Aspen High.

The Trashmen came out slow, allowing two goals in the first two minutes of the game, but by the third period, the score was locked at 5-5.

Maruk, who scored a hat trick, said the shaky start was pretty typical.

“They’re in awe of these guys and all of a sudden they’re on the same ice as them,” Maruk, the only Trash player with NHL experience, said of his team. “They were nervous, but after the first period, the guys settled down.”

Led by Maruk, the Trashmen slowly gained confidence against a team of stars that included six-time Stanley Cup winner Glenn Anderson, 21-year veteran Bernie Nicholls, and B.J. MacDonald, who played on the same line as Wayne Gretzky in Edmonton in the early 1980s.

With the score tied in the third period, the Trashmen began to frustrate the NHL alumni team, and tempers flared. Al Secord, a former NHL All-Star, gave Trashmen Chris Carmichael a shot to the head after the two got tangled up in front of the net.

Maruk and Reed Larson, who played in the NHL at the same time, got involved in a skirmish a couple minutes later.

“He hit me from behind, it surprised me a bit since there’s no checking,” Maruk said. “It was kind of out of frustration – maybe he felt he needed to take me out.”

When Maruk approached Larson in front of the net after the whistle, Larson pushed Maruk and threw a fist. The two continued to have words during the ensuing face off.

“He told me, ‘I had to take you out,'” Maruk laughed. “It’s all part of the game, and the intensity of the game.”

After all, Maruk had a hat trick under his belt, and the NHL Alumni team originally wanted him to play for them.

“Their coach and Wily [Manering] talked, and Wily said, ‘How much money are you going to give us for the trade,'” Maruk joked. “My intentions all along were to play for Aspen.”

And according to Maruk, the frustrations only made for a better hockey game.

“They’re good hockey players,” Maruk said. “They’re going to want to win – that’s what made it more enjoyable for the fans.”

In the final 11 minutes of the third period, Nicholls scored twice to sink the Trash for good. But Maruk said the game was a success in that it helped raise money for the Chuck Carlson Fund – which benefits children who are not able to afford to play hockey – and the Aspen Junior Hockey Foundation.

Carlson, a longtime Aspen local who played in the men’s hockey league and devoted time to help with youth hockey, died of cancer two years ago.

“It was a success, the players had a great time and it helped raise money and awareness,” Maruk said. “I think they’re going to try and bring it back next year.”

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