Season off and skating for Aspen Junior Hockey, which eyes 50 years this winter
Harlan Pratt’s first season as the executive director of Aspen Junior Hockey will unfortunately be remembered for having come in the middle of a pandemic. Yet, the native Canadian and former professional player lauded the AJH youth for their dedication this past year, despite the limited ice time.
“It’s not easy. Nothing in life is easy. But our kids were able to skate pretty consistently last year, which I thought was pretty awesome,” Pratt said earlier this fall. “From an overall standpoint, our kids finished with a normal season in an abnormal year, if that makes sense. And then this year, we’ve been able to get kids on the ice. We started skating Aug. 30, which is rolling into September and it’s pretty sweet to get kids on the ice as early as possible.”
While the pandemic is certainly not over, as rules remain in place locally to guard against the spread of COVID-19, Aspen Junior Hockey is already humming along at a pre-pandemic pace this fall. It started with the Back to Hockey night and the handing out of the annual Daily Sportsmanship Awards, which are sponsored by the Daily family, led by John Daily and his brother, the late Art Daily.
In-House – Kia Grueter; 6U & 8U – Ruby Casper & Juan Filipello-Barna; 10U Boys – Maddox Miller & Cody Shepard; 12U Boys – Will Pfautz & Hudson Pratt; 14U Boys – Cameron Dioguardi; 12U Girls – Sage Fields; 14U AA Girls – Bella Simeone;15U Girls – Paige Pulliam; 19U Girls – Hannah Popish; 19U AA Girls – Berkley Kelly; Skier JV & Skier Varsity – Dominic Smith & Joseph Clark
The 20th annual Woody Creek Distillers Stirling Cup was held Sept. 17 and 18. One of the organization’s largest fundraisers, it included a fly fishing excursion that Saturday and the usual golf tournament the next day at Aspen Golf Club.
“Pretty fun day, for sure,” Pratt said. “There is such a good support of community, and within that community it’s supporting the youth and other small, local programs. It’s pretty special. It makes it a pretty neat place for kids to grow up.”
This year there will be a second part to the Stirling Cup festivities with an alumni weekend scheduled for December, done in partnership with the Colorado Avalanche. AJH also partnered with the Avs and their Mile High Mites program this fall, which kicked off Oct. 11.
This upcoming weekend will be the second of three straight weekends of the 28th annual Fall Faceoff, a series of tournaments held as another major fundraiser for AJH. The higher-level AA teams competed this past weekend.
From a competitive standpoint, most AJH teams are off and skating in a season that typically runs until spring.
Of note, this coming January will mark the 50th anniversary of Aspen Junior Hockey. Pratt said there are a handful of festivities planned to celebrate the milestone, including throwback jerseys for the athletes to wear.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard on Tuesday announced the final U.S. World Cup schedule, a lineup that includes the Aspen World Cup from March 3 to 5 on Aspen Mountain. Those races will include a men’s super-G and two men’s downhills.