Glenwood Springs High wins season opener as home rink remains closed
The 8:30 p.m. start time for the Glenwood Demons hockey team Friday night would be unthinkably late for most prep sports. For the currently homeless Demons, it was actually early.
Due to a critical malfunction that forced the closure of the Glenwood Springs Ice Rink, the Demons have bounced around the Western Slope looking for ice time, getting whatever ice slots they could for practice between Grand Junction, Eagle and Aspen. With the season — and first-semester finals in the classroom — on the horizon, the team has been navigating heavy roster turnover and general preparation with 10 p.m. ice slots some nights, dozens of miles from home.
“We’re just trying to get ice wherever it’s available,” Demons senior Aiden Senn said. “It’s just hard right now.”
Their home rink continues to sit empty following a coolant leak in late November, with no exact time table for reopening. Head coach Tim Cota said the team has been getting about half as much practice in as they normally would, leaving some questions unanswered heading into the season opener against Mullen in Littleton.
Returning home at 2 a.m. with an 8-0 win, however, answered some of them.
“We had a rough start to the practice season, so to be able to get through that and go down to Denver Friday and pull it together — the kids played well,” Cota said.
Cota said Mullen entered the season ranked No. 6 in 4A in the state, while Glenwood Springs was ranked No. 11. The Demons lost more than 10 seniors from a year ago, leading to a significant shakeup. Many of the newcomers have some familiarity with the team through club play but still had to face the adjustment to varsity hockey with less ice time.
Freshman forward Brayden Dacuma led the game with three points — including two goals — and defenseman Greyson Alcorta was named player of the game by Cota, leading the team in takeaways. The team also rolled an all-freshman defensive line in Lucas Chartier and Sam Rosenberg. It was a trial by fire.
“When you’re a freshman and you make varsity, you’re basically skipping a level,” Cota said. “That can be a shock, especially with the size difference. It can be difficult, but there’s a reason why they’re chosen to be on that varsity team.”
With the season officially underway, the questions about having a home have not yet been answered. The Demons will continue road practices for the foreseeable future. The Aspen Skiers are slated to make the trip downvalley for the Demons’ home opener Dec. 17.
Cota said he was told replacement coolant is expected to arrive on Monday after shipping delays postponed its arrival date from the week before. However, getting the new refrigerant is only the first step in a process that involves evaluating damage to the cooling system. The first home game could still be in jeopardy, with a backup plan of traveling to Aspen for the contest.
Glenwood Springs went 6-5-1 in the 2020-21 season, good for third place in the 4A Mountain League. Cota sees a shift in the league standings this season, after last year’s second-place finisher Battle Mountain lost to Steamboat Springs, who went 3-6.
“The conference is going to be tight,” Cota said.
Reporter Rich Allen can be reached at 970-384-9131 or email@example.com.
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