Demons hockey closes out regular season with 3-3 tie vs. Aspen; readies for playoffs Wednesday vs. Columbine
TUESDAY UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect the revised opening round playoff game schedule for Glenwood vs. Columbine, at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Eagle Ice Rink.
Following a 13-0 score-fest win on the road Friday at Liberty, the Glenwood Springs High School boys hockey team concluded the regular season Saturday with a 3-3 overtime tie against Aspen at home.
The Demons — with 11 wins, 5 losses and 3 ties overall and concluding the Peak League at 5-3-2 — received word Sunday that they’re the No. 15 seed in the 24-team, single-class state hockey playoffs.
Glenwood opens the postseason campaign against No. 18 Columbine at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Eagle Ice Rink.
Playing on senior night in front of a large home crowd at the Glenwood Springs Community Center ice rink Saturday night, the emotions were high.
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Aspen finishes the regular season at 3-10-4 and 3-4-3 in the conference, but still enters the state playoffs as the 23rd seed.
The Skiers’ record is not indicative of their toughness, Glenwood coach Tim Cota noted.
Tied up with a chance to win the game in the closing 10 seconds of regulation, a Glenwood scoring opportunity was halted when someone blew a whistle from the stands, causing Glenwood to stop and Aspen to keep playing on a 4-on-0 break.
Glenwood goalie Hunter Hadsock made a spectacular play, poke-checking the puck away from the Aspen player at the last second to save the game from ending on what could have been a sour note.
All night long, though, the Demons gave the Skiers too many power plays. Glenwood was mostly successful in killing off the penalty time, only allowing one power play goal against.
Glenwood senior Sean Mooney got things started with a goal 3:16 into the first period, assisted by Colter Strautman, to make it 1-0.
Defenseman Cole Houston was the third straight Demon player in the penalty box at 8:57, and Aspen capitalized quickly when Eli Hunt found the net just 5 seconds later off the assist from George Morrison.
“When we were able to play 5-on-5 hockey and keep them pinned deep, that’s when we had opportunities,” senior captain Jacob Fowler said afterwards. “Unfortunately, it was hard to maintain that momentum with getting hit with penalties here and there throughout the night.”
Strautman managed a short-handed goal 3:29 into the second period (assist Ryan Kotz), and Kotz then connected off Mooney to give the Demons a 3-1 lead at 10:29. Aspen hung tough, though, as Jack Pevny scored a little less than 2 minutes later (Max Ufkes assist).
Ufkes then found the net 8:49 into the third period to knot it at 3-3 and send the game it into a scoreless overtime.
Four Glenwood penalties in the final period, including a 10-minute misconduct call against Max Mencimer, left the Demons short-handed most of the final 17 minutes of regulation.
“I thought we battled through the adversity fairly well,” Kotz said afterward. “There was no shortage of controversy, that’s for sure.”
Kotz had a golden opportunity in OT on a hard drive to the net with only Aspen goaltender Logan Soderberg in front of him, and sent the shot sailing just wide.
“I just knew I needed to drive to the net and get an angle. I thought I had it,” Kotz added.
Assistant coach Richie Luetke added, “These conference games have been battles all year long — closely contested games with emotions that run high, you have to battle through, and win the battles one shift at a time.
“In spite of being on the penalty kill more than we anticipated, we were still able to get more pucks to the net than Aspen, which is a good sign moving forward,” Luetke said.
Cota said his team has some work to do before playoffs start.
“We just need to sit down and iron out a clear path on how we’re going to succeed together mentally and physically, though the effort is there.”
As for the playoffs, “There’s a lot of parity this year,” Cota said. “I can see upsets in the making this playoff season.”
Four teams from the Peak League are entering the playoffs — Glenwood (15), Summit (13), Battle Mountain (14) and Aspen (23) — “and all four have the ability to make a run, it’s that close.”
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The teams aren’t vying to one up the other in the rankings or looking to get a leg up in the league standings this fall, but that will hardly make the stakes any less meaningful for Basalt and Glenwood Springs high schools when they meet on the football field Friday night.