The frontrunners of the RMJHL held on to the top three spots with sweeps this past weekend. The Aspen Leafs and Pikes Peak Miners remained locked in a tie at the top of the leaderboard, with 24 points, while the Breckenridge Bucks kept pace while improving their record to 10-4 in the division.
The Grand Junction Yetis suffered their third overtime loss of the season Friday night against the Breckenridge Bucks. Two goals by Drake Cole in the third period gave the Yetis the lead, only to have Buck Anthony Flores tie the game at 4-4 late in the third. Michael Klintworth’s goal won the game for the Bucks in overtime. Yeti goalie James Grosklaus had a strong showing between the pipes, saving 34 of 39 shots in the loss.
As Breckenridge Bucks head coach Jesse Davis described it, “Our games against the Yetis were very competitive.” Both the Bucks and Yetis had great play, and Davis was pleased with the effort from Klintworth. “He scored two big goals for us Friday—his first goal of the season and the OT winner,” Davis stated.
Saturday’s matchup resulted in a 5-2 win for Breckenridge. However, the Yetis capitalized on some late game penalties, and used their momentum shift to score two goals in the third period. Yeti goalie Francis Zelmet stopped 38 of the 43 shots he faced. Breckenridge goalie Oliver Elvenger was in net both games, picking up two in the win column. Davis mentioned the highlight of the game for him was having Austin Oyler scoring his first goal of the season on a power play advantage in the second period.
Friday’s matchup between the Aspen Leafs and the Colorado Rampage started off a little slow in the first period. Although the Leafs were sluggish at the start, head coach Jay Miller was pleased with the team’s effort. “The first night it took us awhile to adjust to the travel day as well as new line combinations,” Miller noted. A couple of goals from Arthur Kelso sparked the Leafs and opened the door for four other players to make the scoresheet—Hunter Havice, Andrew Lee, Ivan Bondarenko and Boston Lindahr—to help propel Aspen to a 6-3 win. Mack Starr and Samuel Gilmore were able to get things going for the Rampage in the second, and Rylin Quintana scored for the Rampage with 4 ½ minutes remaining to close out the scoring.
Saturday night’s game was a more lopsided contest as Aspen came out firing against Rampage goalie Landon Anderson, scoring 9 goals in the first period. “We started fast and were able to keep the lead the entire game,” Miller stated. “I was able to get a few guys some rest and get scoring from all 4 lines.” The Rampage kept their cool during the rout, keeping clear of the penalty box; Reid Grignano was able to tally the only Rampage goal in the third, robbing Leafs goalie Mike Cowell of a shutout.
The Pikes Peak Miners and the Colorado Thunderbirds met up this past weekend for their series at South Suburban Ice Arena in Littleton. Although lopsided on the scoreboard, Pikes Peak’s head coach Nicholas Harper felt the matchups were more evenly matched than the scoreboard indicated. “I thought our team defense and goalies were really the biggest difference,” Harper explained. “During the 1st period on Friday and the 2nd period on Saturday, our back checking and gap control took over the games and we kept them under 3 shots in both periods. It was the most complete our team has looked all season. We competed hard to get the puck when we didn't have it and once we got it we moved it well offensively,” Harper added.
Thunderbirds’ head coach Cam Clemenson was pleased with his team’s effort, but recognized the disparity between the two clubs. “We had good play from Levi Clemenson, 3 points again on the weekend in our tough games against Pikes Peak.” However, “Pikes Peak overwhelmed us with their size and speed.” The Thunderbirds stayed out of penalty box, giving more support to their goalies, Austin Borchert and Brady Mielnicky, who were pressured by the Miners all night.
The upcoming weekend schedule has the Colorado Thunderbirds traveling to Aspen to take on the Leafs at Aspen Ice Garden, the Miners of Pikes Peak host the Breckenridge Bucks in Colorado Springs, and the Colorado Rampage travel west to take on the Glacier Yetis in Grand Junction.