U-19s Pucker up for states | AspenTimes.com

U-19s Pucker up for states

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Aspen Times photo/Paul Conrad.Katrina DeVore of the under-19 Aspen girls, left, and Katie McBride-Puckett of the Aspen Mother Puckers battle for the puck during the second period Saturday night at the Lewis Ice Arena at the ARC. The U-19s, seeking a fourth straight state title this weekend in Denver, beat the Mother Puckers 6-4.

The original shot from the point was a real dribbler, a regular can of corn for Margo Cuttitta, the veteran goalie of the Aspen Mother Puckers.

Then from a solid perch in front of the crease came Dylan Braun’s flashing stick, flicking the puck slightly off its original course and past Cuttitta ” the fourth goal of the Aspen under-19 girls teams’ 6-4 win last Saturday night at the Lewis Ice Arena at the ARC.

Earlier, Caitlin Dunn of the U-19s fired a one-timer slapshot from the point and into the back of the net, after a picture-perfect across-ice pass left Cuttitta’s far side exposed. Dunn’s rocket shot capped off a power play just as Braun’s did later.

When the final horn sounded, ending a five-game set between Aspen’s top two female hockey teams, the youngsters notched a second win in the inaugural series.

Think the U-19s are ready to chase a fourth-consecutive under-19 girls state title in Denver this weekend? Think yes. Believe.

“No one passes like us,” said a proud Wily Manering, coach of the U-19s with Pete Whitmore and Dan Johns.

“This is the best team we’ve had outa Aspen,” Manering continued.

“And they’re gonna come at us at states,” added coach Johns, father of senior captain Dylan and forward Lolli.

The U-19s’ losses to the Mother Puckers stand as their only regulation time-losses of the season. In under-19 league and tournament play this season, the U-19s are 25-1-1. The sole loss came in a shootout against Denver University, back in November in the annual Fall Face-Off in Aspen. (Same as the tie.) Aspen has since beaten DU twice on the road.

The U-19s enter the seven-team Saturday-Sunday tourney as the No. 1 seeds. Coach Manering said DU, Summit and the Colorado Selects represent the biggest threats to Aspen’s quest for an unprecedented four-peat.

“But Aspen’s the team to beat,” Steve Costalas, coach of the Mother Puckers, observed after Saturday night’s game.

Players from the U-19s appeared in both scoring columns during the Puckers-U19s finale. The Puckers were short a few skaters so U-19 forward Maddy D’Amato played with them and, after scrapping with a few of her teammates along the way, scored the Puckers’ fourth goal.

Christy Severy, Carly Magill and Maggie Melberg also scored for the U-19s, while Zoe Stern, Tina Schairer and Shelley Supplee beat the U-19s’ Teagan Walter for goals.

Coach Manering was quick to point out that the previous Tuesday night, Feb. 24, the Puckers dealt the U-19s a beating.

“We got whooped,” said Manering. “This is women’s hockey ” not girls hockey. We don’t see this in our league. The Puckers, they don’t give you time or space and we need that kind of opponent to make us better. It’s great for us to be able to play these women.”

“What a show of Saturday night hockey ” and then [the Puckers] all come off the ice saying, ‘Good luck at states, good luck at states.'”

The three U-19 captains are their three most-veteran players, all Aspen High seniors: Braun, Alia Strong and Victoria Work.

And Aspen’s first line of D’Amato, Braun and Reilly Gallagher are the three top scorers in the league. D’Amato and Gallagher lead with 24 points, while Braun leads all in goal-scoring with 23 points total.

Add in defensemen like Katrina DeVore, Strong, Severy and Magill (also the point guard of the AHS hoops team) and as Manering says, “There’s no better defense in the state.”

Meanwhile, the Puckers are preparing for the Women’s Association of Colorado Hockey state championships in Vail April 2-4. At 13-4-3 to date on the season, the Puckers host rival Vail on March 13 at 8:30 p.m.