Skiers snap out of funk, down Sailors
LITTLETON, Colo. After two scoreless periods Friday night against familiar foe Steamboat Springs, Aspen hockey coach Al Butler said his players were gripping their sticks like they were hanging on to the edge of a cliff.Senior Tyler Moore made sure Aspen didn’t fall off.Playing at their nervous worse in their first round playoff game at Littleton’s Edge Arena, the defending state champs finally came to life after Moore broke a scoreless tie two minutes into the final period, knocking in a goal off assists from senior teammates Ricky Frias and Simon Dolginow.After breathing a sigh of relief, the Skiers got back to work, netting three more goals in a 4-0 win that got chippy near the end.The seventh-seeded Skiers advance to the quarterfinal round where at 8 p.m. tonight they face the winner of Friday night’s late game, No. 2 Regis vs. No. 15 Standley Lake. (Results weren’t available at press time.)”The first game is always the toughest,” said Butler, whose team ran its postseason win streak to five with the win over the 10th-seeded Sailors. “For those first two periods, we were gripping the stick about as hard as you can grip it without breaking it. We were just very nervous.”Aspen beat Steamboat Springs twice during the regular season by a combined score of 8-1 – lopsided wins that worried Butler heading into the opening playoff game. The Skiers weren’t looking ahead Friday, the coach said, they just struggled with the pressure that comes with being the defending 5A state champs.”Once that first goal went in, you could kind of just see the air go out of everybody,” Butler said. “We started to come together and [Steamboat Springs] just fell apart. They took two five-minute major penalties, one for spearing and one for boarding. It got a bit ugly.”Junior forward Murphy Fyrwald netted Aspen’s second goal on an unassisted put-back. The rout was on when sophomore Daniel Doremus scored off assists from Dolginow and Frias. Senior forward Kyle Langley finished Aspen’s scoring with an assist from junior Logan Tierney.After the win, Aspen headed to the bleachers at the Edge to get a look at its second-round opponent. “We’re expecting Regis,” Butler said. “Whoever it is, we just need to come out and play like we did during the third period for the full three periods. It’s going to be a good game.”Aspen lost to Regis in the two teams’ only meeting this year, although the 6-3 defeat came when Aspen was missing a number of players.”We just didn’t play very strong defensively in that game,” Butler said. “We just made too many mistakes, and they made us pay for it. We’ve tightened some things up and I think we’re playing much better hockey.”email@example.com
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