Minor league hockey rivals to play in Aspen

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

When minor league hockey hits the ice in Aspen on Friday night, two evenly matched teams from the Central Hockey League will skate to break their tie in the middle of the league standings.

The Lewis Ice Arena at the Aspen Recreation Center (ARC) will host the Central Hockey League rivals — the Denver Cutthroats and the Tulsa Oilers — at 7 p.m. Friday and again at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets for the minor league hockey games are available at the ARC as well as through Aspen Junior Hockey. Tickets also are available at 303-295-3475 or at

The two teams enter the series in Aspen tied with 34 points each as play enters 2014 in the Central Hockey League, a conference with 10 minor league teams stretching from Texas to Canada.

The Denver Cutthroats scheduled the league games in Aspen (and two more in Vail) because their home facility‚ the Denver Coliseum — is occupied with the National Western Stock Show.

The Cutthroats, in 29 games this season, have 14 victories, 9 losses and 6 overtime losses (14-9-6).

The Tulsa Oilers, in 33 games, have 16 wins, 15 losses and 2 overtime losses (16-15-2), and the Oilers are the most prolific scoring team in the CHL.

The Denver Cutthroats wrapped up 2013 with a 4-3 victory over the Arizona Sundogs in Prescott Valley on New Year’s Eve.

Dan Barczuk scored the first and second goals for the Cutthroats. Barczuk, who would finish with a hat trick, is from Livonia, Mich.

Garett Bembridge and Aaron MacKenzie assisted on the opening goal. Bembridge and Troy Schwab assisted on the second.

Barczuk completed his hat trip in the second period, assisted by MacKenzie and Matt Glasser.

Bembridge, from Melfort, Saskatchewan, scored the final goal in the Denver Cutthroats victory.

Kent Patterson (Plymouth, Minn.) got the win in goal for the Cutthroats.

The Cutthroats and Oilers are in the middle of the CHL standings, tied for fifth place.

The Rapid City Rush leads with 44 points.

The Missouri Mavericks (Independence, Mo.) are second with 41.

The Allen Americans (Texas) are third with 36 points while the Quad City Mallards (Moline, Ill.) are fourth (35).

Just behind Tulsa and Denver are the Brampton Beast (Ontario, Canada), the Wichita Thunder (Kan.), the Arizona Sundogs and the St. Charles Chill (St. Charles, Mo.).

As part of the minor league hockey team’s visit to Aspen, the Denver Cutthroats will host a free youth hockey clinic for Aspen Junior Hockey players from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lewis Ice Arena. The free clinic is presented by Rocky Mountain Health Plans.

According to the club, Cutthroats coaches will work with kids on the ice to teach everything from fundamentals to technique while physicians and guest speakers will address nutrition and safety off the ice.

Those scheduled to participate include Cutthroats head coach Derek Armstrong and assistant Brad Smyth.

The Denver Cutthroats are the CHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League. They also are affiliated with the American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters.

After the games in Aspen, the Denver Cutthroats will host the Arizona Sundogs at Dobson Ice Arena in Vail on Jan. 24-25.

Also for the games in Aspen, fans will have a chance to win prizes donated by local establishments.