Power play propels Cutthroats in Aspen
The Associated Press
The Denver Cutthroats pumped up their power play in Aspen.
The Central Hockey League team won its second consecutive game on Aspen ice Saturday night with two power-play goals and a 2-0 victory over the Tulsa Oilers.
The CHL win at the Lewis Ice Arena followed a 4-2 victory for the Cutthroats on Friday night, giving the team a sweep of the two-game series in Aspen.
“Yes, I am really happy with my game (Saturday night) … two goals,” said Jean-Philipp Chabot, who scored both power play goals for the Cutthroats. “A good game, and they are a good team.”
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Chabot broke the scoreless tie late in the first period after two Oilers were sent to the penalty box, giving the Cutthroats a 5-on-3 advantage.
The scoring sequence opened with Troy Schwab ripping a shot from the right side that bounced free in front where it was controlled by Garett Bembridge, who passed to Steve Kaunisto.
He dished to Chabot for the score with 2:24 to play in the first 20-minute period.
“Every power play, I am in front, looking for the rebound,” said Chabot, a sturdy 6-1, 205-pounder from Quebec. “I got off, I think, three shots (in the 5-on-3 attack). It paid off.”
His second goal came on a conventional power play, right after Chabot left the Cutthroats’ bench.
“I was coming late from a (line) change, and Schwabbie (Tory Schwab) made a great pass in the slot, and I got the goal,” Chabot said.
Bembridge, the points leader of the Central Hockey League, assisted on the second goal, as well.
A veteran from Melfort, Saskatchewan, Bembridge played virtually every position (except goalie) for the Cutthroats, including extensive time on the power play.
He also drew key stretches as a defenseman where he helped the Denver defense and goalie Kent Patterson shut out the normally high-socoring Oilers.
“This is a tough matchup because they have some really skilled forwards,” said Sean Zimmerman, an anchor of the Cutthroats defense. “We had the home-ice advantage, so we got to dictate which line went against their line. That was a big part for us.”
Zimmerman, originally from the Littleton area, led a stalwart defensive effort in the first period when penalties forced the Cutthroats into defending a 4-on-3 scenario.
“We were just trying to stay tight, stay in front,” Zimmerman said, adding that Patterson’s performance in goal clinched the victory.
“He (Patterson) had 41 saves. He was great (Saturday night). He stopped … a couple of breakaways,” said Zimmerman, a towering 6-3, 220-pounder. “He definitely had our backs.”
He turned back a number of shots from the likes of Ben Gordon, Michel Beausoleil, Ryan Menei and Todd Robinson — members of the high-scoring Oilers’ front line.
Zimmerman, who blocked a number of Tulsa shots Saturday night, said he enjoyed his return trip to Aspen.
“I played minor hockey in Aspen a long, long time ago. It wasn’t at this rink. It was at the other rink … downtown,” Zimmerman said.
“We had two good games here,” Chabot said. “We’re expecting to keep it going.”
He said the team, in addition to the two victories, enjoyed the rink and the Aspen fans.
“The ice was fantastic. I think the quality of the ice was perfect,” said Chabot, who grew up playing in his native Quebec. “It’s a small rink … but the crowd was loud. It was fun.”
The Denver Cutthroats, after winning the first two Central Hockey League games ever played in Aspen, improved to 16-9-6. Tulsa dropped to 16-17-2.
The Cutthroats will hit the road for their next Central Hockey League games.
After a single game in St. Charles, Mo., the Cutthroats will play two games in Rapid City, S.D., against the league-leading Rapid City Rush.
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