Undisciplined defense costs Aspen hockey | AspenTimes.com

Undisciplined defense costs Aspen hockey

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – After Dec. 17’s 4-3 win over Standley Lake, head coach Al Butler was convinced that the Aspen hockey team finally had shored up its defense.

Not quite.

Visiting Monarch generated a slew of scoring chances against a porous Skiers back line Friday. The Coyotes overcame an early deficit and, on the strength of a hat trick from Walker Harris, cruised to a 6-3 victory.

“This was kind of disappointing, having watched these guys play at the level they did against Standley Lake,” admitted Butler, whose squad now is 3-3. “They were very disciplined and had that will to win. … Tonight, there was just a little too much running around and guys not playing their position and trying to play other positions.”

Monarch took advantage. Harris slipped past the defense 3 minutes, 6 seconds into the opening period, swooped in front and flicked a shot past Aspen goaltender John Piccinati.

The Skiers answered with two scores in a 69-second span. Nicholas Bond cleaned up a rebound with 10 minutes remaining in the first, backhanding a shot past the Coyotes’ Ian Oden. Soon after, Dylan Ahasic, perfectly positioned on the near post, corralled a rebound and tapped the puck into an open net.

The home team’s lone lead lasted all of three minutes. Harris scored a second goal on a power play about seven minutes before the first intermission, launching a high shot that bounded off Piccinati’s midsection and into the net.

Harris and teammate Jake Christofferson connected during a lopsided second period in which the Coyotes outshot punchless Aspen, 12-6.

“We don’t quite have the grit yet to get those dirty goals around the net,” Butler said. “A lot of it is getting focused – instead of doing the drive-by, it’s about driving the net hard and staying there for the rebound.”

Gian Cervo slipped through the middle of the Skiers defense about five minutes into the third period, controlled a pass and scored to all but put this game out of reach.

Daniel Kelso gave Aspen a glimmer of hope, scoring a power play goal with about 61⁄2 minutes to play. Less than five seconds later, however, Monarch’s Noah Zimmerman drilled a powerful liner from the blue line that somehow found the net.

“Hopefully they’ll learn from this,” Butler said. “Hopefully tomorrow we can get back where we were (before the break).”

The Skiers welcome Ralston Valley to Lewis Ice Arena at 4 p.m. today in a rematch of the 2007 state championship game.

“Ever since we beat them in 2007, every time they play us they have a chip on their shoulder – and rightfully so,” Butler said. “They want to go out and show us who’s boss. Tomorrow will obviously be a tough game for us.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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