Kent Denver strikes early, downs Aspen hockey |

Kent Denver strikes early, downs Aspen hockey

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Al Butler has never called a timeout this fast.

Just 2 minutes, 37 seconds into Friday’s game, Aspen’s head hockey coach was forced to halt play after visiting Kent Denver struck with two early goals.

“Basically, I told them they needed to start getting a sense of urgency,” Butler said. “I told them to stop letting [the Sun Devils] dictate the game.”

Good luck. Kent Denver’s early scoring barrage continued with a goal three minutes later. The Sun Devils added another for good measure in the second period and, behind a strong effort from goalkeeper John Ladd, buried the Skiers, 4-0.

“I think we really just weren’t awake,” Aspen senior Milo Stark said. “It’s been tough to figure out how to get ourselves focused. … [That start] really shocked us.”

This is not how the Skiers had hoped to celebrate senior night. Just 12 seconds after the puck dropped, Pete Dikeou found an opening on the left side of the ice and ripped a shot past Aspen goalkeeper Zach Ware.

Jordan Friedman stretched the lead to two with 12:23 remaining when he tapped home a rebound in front of the net.

“We’ve had such a hard time [this year] putting together a full game,” Butler said.

Three minutes later, Christopher Fitzsimmons drew two defenders as he skated behind the net, then passed to a waiting Matt Windholz for the one-timer. Kent Denver converted on three of its first seven shots on goal.

The Skiers (10-6-2 overall, 7-5 5A Foothills), meanwhile, could muster just three shots on Ladd in the first 121⁄2 minutes.

Friedman extended the lead one minute into the second period when he sped up the right side, cradled the puck when a defender did not close in and launched a shot into the top left corner of the net.

Despite some improved puck movement on offense down the stretch, Aspen could not close the gap.

The Skiers are 4-4-2 at Lewis Ice Arena this season.

“In that second period they were taking penalties and tried to let us get back in the game. We didn’t seize the opportunity,” Butler said. “In the third we played better, but it was too late. … If we were down one it would’ve been different. We’ve never had the firepower.

“Obviously this is not a good way to head into the playoffs.”

With two wins this weekend, Aspen could have moved into fourth in the Foothills standings, Butler said. While they are not in danger of falling out the top eight and missing the playoffs, the Skiers, currently sixth, could drop with a loss today against Heritage in Littleton (8:30 p.m.).

“I feel that if tomorrow goes well, we’ll get some momentum,” Stark said. “We have a lot of seniors on this team. We have to start realizing that this is our season. … We have to be ready for hard battles.”

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