Hockey: Aspen tops Battle Mountain in overtime thriller
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Emotion filled the Lewis Ice Arena as Aspen celebrated senior night. That emotion was nothing compared to what would transpire on the ice Friday evening.
The Skiers and rival Battle Mountain were knotted at two after three tense periods. With less than two minutes remaining in overtime, Cole Bond broke away and beat Huskies goaltender Michael Brunk with some nifty moves to produce his second goal and, more important, the game winner.
With the victory in their regular-season finale, the Skiers finished 7-10-2 overall and 4-6-2 in 5A Foothills play.
“We had more aspirations to go to state, but this game felt like a state championship,” senior Boris Lindenau said. “Vail is our rival, and beating them and getting them so mad set up a rivalry for next year.”
The final score came with post-game drama. As the players were lining up to shake hands, a small scuffle broke out and the teams were separated by referees.
“You play a team that you have a rivalry with in Battle Mountain, and there’s no love lost between either team,” Aspen head coach Al Butler said. “It kind of makes for an exciting game, but it’s not as controlled of a game as you would like it to be.”
The Skiers jumped out to a quick lead as Colter Robinson weaved between two Battle Mountain defenders and slipped the puck over Brunk’s right shoulder just 1 minute, 15 seconds into the contest. The Huskies responded three minutes later with the equalizer.
Aspen regained the lead with two minutes remaining in the first period when Bond connected converted during a four-on-four.
“We have a few seniors on the team, and we wanted to come out hard for them,” Lindenau said. “We came out hard, but then in the second period we kind of fell apart. We then realized we were losing to our rival, and we had to step it up and we did that.”
During the second and third periods, Aspen committed eight penalties, giving the visitors numerous opportunities to square the score.
Butler attributed his team’s erratic play to the emotion of the game.
“We were trying to keep them from losing their composure,” Butler said. “We were trying to make their defense take us wide and drive the net with the puck, which we did and their goalie played well. We finally converted one at the end.”
Battle Mountain finally capitalized on one of those penalties with 1:43 left in regulation.
In overtime, Bond slipped one past the goalkeeper.
Aspen outshot the Huskies, 27-25.
“We were a little angry that we didn’t win it in regulation.” Lindenau said. “We were a little scared that they came back, but we knew we were a lot better than this team and we can beat them.”
Bond’s shot ignited the Skiers bench; players flooded the ice and tackled the freshman.
“We’ve got a pretty good nucleus still and some talent coming up,” Butler said. “We’ve got some good juniors who will be seniors next year who will step into that leadership role. I think we should compete pretty well next year.”
X Games is back for its 22nd consecutive year at Buttermilk Ski Area starting Friday, with many of the world’s best skiers and snowboarders set to compete in halfpipe, slopestyle, big air and knucklehuck over three days.