Glenwood hockey beats Liberty 7-2, heads to state semifinals

Austin Colbert
The Aspen Times
Glenwood Springs hockey player Jacob Stockdill celebrates his goal in the second period of a playoff game against Liberty on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, at Lewis Ice Arena in Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Slow starts aren’t a good recipe for success in the postseason. And that’s why Glenwood Springs High School hockey coach Tim Cota put an emphasis on doing the opposite in Tuesday’s Class 4A playoff game against Liberty.

“We had problems with our first periods the last few games, so we knew we had to come out and set the tone right away, and the kids did,” Cota said after the Demons won 7-2 at Lewis Ice Arena in Aspen. “The sense of urgency right out of the gate kind of set the tone for us. Pressured them right away. Threw up 20 shots in the first period and got them on their heels right out of the gate.”

The win sends No. 1 seed Glenwood (16-4) into the 4A semifinals, where the Demons will next face No. 4 seed Colorado Academy (16-4) on Saturday at The Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs. That game’s winner will play either No. 3 Cheyenne Mountain or No. 2 Steamboat Springs in the 4A championship game on Tuesday, March 7.

Glenwood and Colorado Academy played as recently as Feb. 10, a 3-2 non-league road win for the Demons.

“Defensively our core is solid, healthier. The biggest thing for us coming into the playoffs was trying to get healthy. We feel we got that,” Cota said. “We feel we got the goalies in the net to be able to take care of the job. Colorado Academy is a good team. So obviously if we make too many mistakes, that is not going to be good for us. And the two goals we gave up in that game were kind of self-inflicted, so we need to take care of that in practice the next couple of days. And it’s a new game on Saturday.”

Tuesday’s playoff game with Liberty was controlled by Glenwood from the start. Early goals by Jacob Barlow and Jacob Roggie made it 2-0 rather quickly, a score that held into the second period. Jett Weatherred made it 3-0 early in the period before Liberty’s Micah Newton scored to get the visitors on the scoreboard at 3-1 with still plenty of time to play.

But the Demons put a quick end to any real rally, with back-to-back goals by Kaleb Holm and Jacob Stockdill in less than a minute making it 5-1 in favor of Glenwood after two periods.

Glenwood Springs hockey player Ryder Rondeau, right, controls the puck in the second period of a playoff game against Liberty on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, at Lewis Ice Arena in Aspen. (Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

“After the first period we felt if we kept pressing like that, with our puck possession time tilting the way it was, we felt pretty confident,” Cota said.

Ryder Rondeau scored midway through the third period to make it 6-1. Micah Newton got one more back for Liberty with less than five minutes to play before Rondeau scored his second soon after for the game’s final goal.

Normally visitors inside Aspen’s Lewis Ice Arena, the Demons played Tuesday’s game in front of a packed house, but this time with the fans on their side.

“We are used to being here. We are used to hearing the crowd,” Cota said. “It’s nice to be here and have the crowd rooting for you. So, we were looking forward to it. Let’s fill the stands up and hear that crowd on our side this time.”

Glenwood Springs hockey player Carson Miller controls the puck in the second period of a playoff game against Liberty on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, at Lewis Ice Arena in Aspen. (Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times)
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The game felt even more like a home game for a handful of the Glenwood players. After Aspen High School dropped its varsity hockey program this winter due to a lack of player numbers, the AHS athletes had the option of competing for Glenwood this season.

It’s been a pairing of rivals that has worked well and now has the Demons on the doorstep of winning their first state championship in hockey.

“It’s been great. The camaraderie the boys had right out of the gate, they came together quickly,” Cota said. “It’s been a mesh that we’ve loved. It’s definitely been different in a sense that we don’t talk about Aspen this year as being our rival. This year Durango came into the league and there is no Aspen. Now it’s Glenwood and Aspen together. So that has a different feel. But as far as being on the ice together, it’s been nothing but good.”

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