Strong goaltending leads way for Grizzlies at Vail tourney
The Glenwood Springs Grizzlies hockey program hit the road for a highly-competitive tournament in Vail, Friday and Saturday, where the 14U Bantam Black team reached the championship game before falling to the Littleton Hawks in overtime.
The 14U Bantam Black team went 5-1 over the weekend.
The Grizzlies’ 18U Midget Major team finished 1-3 overall at the tournament, with two games decided by one goal each, thanks to great goaltending, and the 14U Bantam Silver team finished 3-2 overall while reaching the semifinals.
In the first game for the Black team, the Grizzlies topped the Evolution bantam team, 3-0, behind first period goals from Sean Mooney and Carter Cloutier, and a third period power play goal from Ryan Kotz.
Grizzlies goaltender Rio Kauffman was rarely tested by the Evolution skaters, recording just six saves in the shutout win.
Taking on the Arvada bantam team in game two, the Grizzlies again came out on top, this time in a 2-1 win thanks to a first period goal from Luke Grimaldi and a second period goal from Cloutier.
Kauffman stopped 18 of 19 shots in the win.
The Grizzlies then rolled past the Arapahoe Maize bantam team, Saturday, in a 5-1 win behind two goals from Cooper Knott, and goals from Sean Mooney, Colter Strautman and Billy Johnson.
Kauffman came up with 13 saves on 14 shots, picking up his third win of the tournament. For his performance over the weekend, Kauffman was awarded the “Sportsmanship in Action” award, according to the Grizzlies coaching staff.
Glenwood then shut out Vail and Green Mountain Falls, 8-0 and 5-0, before falling to Littleton, 2-1, in the championship game.
Knott scored the first goal of the game just 30 seconds in, but Littleton goaltender Brendan Williamson stopped 12 of the final 13 Grizzlies shots to defeat Glenwood.
For the second time this year, the young Grizzlies team made the finals of a tournament, boosting their play in each game.
“I couldn’t be happier or more pleased with the start of this season,” Grizzlies Bantam Black team head coach Adam McPherson said. “Two tournament finals already, so I’m very proud of the of the hard work these players are putting in.”
While the Bantam Black team made the championship game, the Bantam Silver team finished with a 3-2 record before falling in the semifinals to Littleton, 4-1.
In game one of the tournament for the Silver team, the Grizzlies fell to the Littleton Hawks, 4-1, but the Grizzlies responded in their second game, beating Denver Country Club, 4-2, behind two goals from Kai Kanzer and one goal each from Dylan Webster and Blake Exelbert.
Game three was much of the same for the Grizzlies, as they topped Arvada, 4-2, behind two goals from Hunter Lohse and one goal each from Webster and Kanzer.
Grizzlies goaltender Hadsock Hunter stopped 14 of 16 shots in the win.
After beating Arvada, the Grizzlies then dispatched Arapahoe, 5-3, behind two goals from Webster, a goal from Exelbert, and one goal each from Cole Hawkinson and Thomas Bensch. Hunter stopped 17 of 20 shots to lead the Grizzlies.
Despite winning three straight games to reach the semifinal against the Hawks, the Grizzlies couldn’t solve the only team to beat them in the tournament, falling again to Littleton, 4-1.
Exelbert scored the lone goal for the Grizzlies, a powerplay goal in the second period off of an assist from Kanzer.
While the 14U Grizzlies teams had a successful weekend in Vail, the 18U team ran into some solid goaltending, finishing just 1-3 overall in the tournament.
In the first game for the Grizzlies 18U team, Glenwood was shut out by Arapahoe, 3-0, behind an eight-save performance by Arapahoe netminder CJ Mayfield.
Jake Fegan stopped an astounding 32 of 35 shots for the Grizzlies.
Against the Vail Mountaineers in game two, the Grizzlies were able to get on the scoreboard, but they fell 5-3, dropping their second game in a row.
Erich Albrecht, Mathew Thrun and Billet Porter found the back of the net for the Grizzlies.
Facing off against the Cheyenne Capitals in the third game of the tournament for the Grizzlies, Glenwood was able to pull out a 6-5 win, thanks to a hat trick by Porter, and one goal each from Keenan Winger, Albrecht and Blake Cloutier.
Porter finished with four points (3G-1A) in the game, while Thrun recorded three assists to lead the Grizzlies offensively.
Joshua Cook stopped 24 of 29 shots in the win.
Wrapping up the tournament against Hyland Hills, the Grizzlies dropped a tough 3-1 decision.
Fegan stopped 31 of 34 shots in the loss, wrapping up a solid weekend in net.
Despite a disappointing weekend in terms of wins and losses, Grizzlies head coach Tim Cota saw a lot to like from his team.
“We were able to improve throughout the weekend, Cota said. “Each game we were able to add to our playbook and execute our game plan quite effectively with our young team. Having a ‘never quit’ mentality was one of the coaching staff’s goals going into the weekend, and with strong veteran leadership we were able to accomplish that task.
“Plus, our three goalies were outstanding throughout the weekend, led by senior captain Jake Fegan. Billet Porter and his wingers — Matt Thrun and Eric Albrecht — were able to gain confidence every shift and develop a chemistry that will be fun to watch as the year progresses. Our young team showed a lot of grit and composure throughout the weekend — two qualities we’ll build our identity around this year.”
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