Hockey: Summit blanks Aspen, 5-0
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – An apparent team strength now has become a liability for the Aspen hockey team.
A squad that logged back-to-back shutouts against Battle Mountain and Doherty on Dec. 3 and 9 has struggled mightily on defense this week. The Skiers surrendered seven goals on 40 shots in a home loss to Steamboat Springs on Tuesday night. They did not fare much better Friday in Breckenridge.
Host Summit broke a scoreless tie in the waning seconds of the opening period, then struck for two goals in both the second and third periods to hand Aspen a
“It’s all about that learning curve. We were supposed to learn from that last game but didn’t quite make it,” Skiers head coach Al Butler said. “We kind of made the same mistakes we made against Steamboat. Obviously, missing Laker Mines, Johnny Murray and Ben Karbank set us back on the defensive side … but we just didn’t take care of our zone. If you don’t take care of your own zone, it makes it tough on the rest of the ice.”
Evan Streit gave the Tigers the lead when he slipped a shot past Aspen goaltender John Piccinati nine second before the first intermission.
Just 1 minute, 19 seconds into the second period, Streit assisted on teammate Blake Horan’s goal to stretch the lead to two. Drake Blass scored on a power play little more than four minutes later.
“They had about three or four very skilled players, and we just kind of let those guys do whatever they wanted, really,” Butler said. “We really didn’t defend them well.”
Billy Grosshuesch and George Kasch found the net in the third period for Summit, which pelted Piccinati with 30 shots.
The Skiers fired 22 shots on the Tigers’ Tyrus Vanmatre but were held scoreless for a second time this season. They have scored just eight goals in five games.
“We generated some chances, but their goalie played well,” Butler said. “Once again, we didn’t get much traffic in front of them or many rebounds.”
Things will get no easier Saturday. Because of prior commitments, Aspen will be down to about 15 skaters when it travels to Westminster to square off with Standley Lake.
The Gators, who were slated to face Chatfield later Friday night, outscored opponents 12-2 in their first two games.
“I think we should be able to compete. It’s just a question of whether or not we can correct these mistakes,” Butler said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to go over a bunch of stuff tomorrow and get back on track defensively. That’s where it really all starts.”
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Aspen Mountain opened for the season on Wednesday, a day earlier than originally planned. Top-to-bottom snowmaking, a solid recent storm and well-behaved guests made for a great experience despite all of the extra precautions.