Late goal lifts Aspen hockey
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – The Aspen High hockey team led for a mere 12 seconds Saturday afternoon at Lewis Ice Arena – more than enough time to notch a much-needed victory over Ralston Valley.
Kyle Boucher picked off an attempted clear and scored in the waning seconds of the third period, breaking a scoreless tie, and the Skiers hung on for a 3-2 victory to improve to 4-4 overall.
“We always seem to win those tough games and don’t seem to come to play in those where we should be able to win,” said Skiers head coach Al Butler, whose squad surrendered six goals in Friday’s lopsided loss to Monarch.
“Beating two very good teams like Standley Lake and Ralston, I think they know what they need to do to win now. … They know they’ve got to come out and compete every night. Hopefully now going forward, we’ll get to that point.”
Aspen did not get off to an auspicious start against the Mustangs, a team it blanked in 2007’s 5A state championship at Denver Coliseum.
Just 21⁄2 minutes into the opening period, shortly after Skiers senior Joey Vernier was sent to the penalty box for roughing, Ralston’s Nick Kuhn slipped a perfect pass to teammate Chris Lupinski, who beat Aspen goaltender Patrick Severy from close range.
The Skiers capitalized on a man advantage of their own about four minutes later. A powerful shot from Cole Smith sailed wide of the net, but ricocheted off the boards and right to Nicholas Bond, who scored on Mustangs goaltender Scott Albertoni.
Ralston outshot Aspen, 16-9, in the first 17 minutes, but Severy repeatedly stood tall in the face of constant pressure.
“He played well and stood on his head,” Butler said of Severy, who recorded 29 saves in the game. “That’s what kept us in the game in the first period and allowed us to keep coming at them. Eventually, that tired them out and allowed us to take the play to them.”
The Mustangs pulled ahead again with another quick strike to open the second period. A loose puck skidded across the ice in front of the Skiers’ net and right to Charles Joly, who wound up and launched a powerful blast past Severy.
The visitors lost their momentum soon after, however, after holding and tripping penalties gave Aspen a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:15. The Skiers needed little more than a minute to capitalize; Daniel Kelso flicked a backhanded shot past Albertoni’s outstretched glove.
In the waning moments of a physical and sometimes contentious third period, Boucher made sure this 5A Foothills bout would be decided in regulation.
“Coach Al puts us out there for the last 30 seconds, and we were thinking we’d just kill the time,” the senior said. “I got a good turnover in front of the net and just buried it top shelf.
“It was a great surprise, the best you can get.”
Added Butler: “We’ve been working with them to try and take it up top when they get in close. Kyle took a couple steps in there and buried it. This is a great win for these guys.”
Aspen, which last won consecutive games in early December, begins a stretch of seven consecutive road games Friday in Steamboat Springs. The Sailors cruised, 7-4, in the two teams’ previous meeting Dec. 13.
Said Butler: “When you can win like this, hopefully it will be the springboard we need going forward.”
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