Skiers net No. 3 seed | AspenTimes.com
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Skiers net No. 3 seed

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times
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ASPEN An improbable 5-3 comeback win Thursday night over Regis paid dividends for Aspen’s hockey team on selection Sunday.Colorado High School Activities Association officials rewarded the Skiers (13-3-2, 9-1-1) with the No. 3 seed for this year’s 5A state playoffs after wrapping up the regular season second in the Foothills Conference behind Ralston Valley, which nabbed the top overall seed.The best part about the third seed is that Aspen opens the playoffs Friday night at defending state champion Peak to Peak, a team it trounced by a combined 13-3 in two meetings this year.

Skiers coach Al Butler couldn’t disguise his pleasure Sunday night when asked about his team’s first-round foe. His job this week will be to convince his players that the regular season means nothing come Friday night, he said.”You don’t want to be too overconfident in a one-game situation,” he said. “It’s a team that we should beat, but that goalie was the one who took them all the way to states last year. I’m just going to talk to them about last year’s playoffs when there was a 13th seed and a seventh seed that made the final four. Coming into the playoffs, anything can happen. We’ve just got to play how we’re capable of playing right from the start.”The Skiers beat the No. 14 Pumas on their home ice, 6-1, in the first regular-season meeting. Eleven of Aspen’s 18 games were on the road this year, so Butler isn’t worried about possible home-ice advantage.”From a coaching standpoint, I always find it better to be on the road,” he said. “You have a little more control over the kids and what they do -their activities and how they prepare themselves. When we’re at home, you don’t really know what they’re doing an hour before game time. From that standpoint, it works better.”

After rallying past Regis on Thursday, Aspen routed Columbine, 8-2, on the road Saturday to wrap up the regular season.Skiers senior Matt Butler had four goals against the Rebels, and junior Tyler Moore finished with a goal and an assist. Senior Nicky Anastas also added a goal and an assist. The other goals came from Andy Conarroe and Matt Cooper.The Skiers feature a nucleus of seniors who advanced all the way to the state soccer semifinals this fall before losing to Denver Christian.

The group – Anastas, Cooper, Conarroe, Butler and Ryder Fyrwald – wants nothing more than to go out with an elusive state title.”There definitely is that motivation,” Butler said “They have the capability of going all the way if they play their game.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com


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