Teams in the RMJHL were thankful for better road conditions than last week, and all visiting teams had 2 hours traveling time or less to the host team’s rink, giving way for more time spent with friends and family for the holiday weekend.
The Aspen Leafs journeyed to Grand Junction to take on the Glacier Yetis in their weekend game series. It was the Yetis’ Colton Anderson who chalked up the first goal on the scoreboard in Friday’s match, followed by Aspen’s Ivan Bondarenko’s first of three goals for the night. Although the Leafs prevailed with a 7-3 win, the Yetis kept the game close until the third period, when Andrew Lee joined Bondarenko in the hat trick club. Brian Cersosimo, General Manager and Head Coach of the Glacier Yetis, noted that his team “is starting to understand the systems we are implementing and fitting it into the game plans we have put together.”
Saturday’s game between the Leafs and Yetis was unbalanced as Aspen came out swinging both in scoring and physicality. Not only did the Leafs rack up 14 goals, but both teams spent a good amount of time in the penalty box. “We were working on different things and seeing who performs well in different situations. Sometimes games like that happen, and you move on and prepare for the next weekend,” Cersosimo explained. “Drake Cole has been consistent throughout the season,” Cersosimo noted of Cole’s two goals in Saturday’s game, and made mention of two other Yeti standouts. “Goalie Jimmy Grosklaus played well on Friday, and the addition of Thomas Muecke has boded well for us also.”
The Pikes Peak Miners picked up another win this weekend as they tallied 13 goals against the Colorado Rampage at Sertich Ice Arena in Colorado Springs. Miner goalie Matty Taylor, of Fairbanks, AK, received his first shutout win of the season, stopping all 23 shots on goal.
The Colorado Thunderbirds traveled west to play the Breckenridge Bucks Thanksgiving weekend at Stephen C. West Ice Arena. The Bucks took advantage of a cheerful home crowd and scored four goals in the first period in both Friday and Saturday’s games. The T-birds didn’t roll over Friday night, outscoring the Bucks 3-2 in the remaining two periods, but couldn’t capitalize enough on Buck penalties to close the gap closer than the final, 6-3.
T-birds goalie Austin Knoebel was engulfed Saturday night with endless shots from Breckenridge forwards in the 8-2 romp. Bucks Milou Lofstrom and Jake Wener each potted two goals on the night. Bucks GM and Head Coach Jesse Davis spoke highly of his defense. “Our defense did a great job in both games keeping the T-birds shots to the outside,” stated Davis. Although the Bucks dominated on the ice, he believes they still have room for improvement. “Overall, we still have a lot of things to work on. When we play better teams, we will not get away with the mistakes we made this weekend—the better teams will capitalize,” Davis added.
A power play goal by Skyler Budman, followed by a late goal in the third period by Ben Joseph, put the T-birds on the scoreboard to avoid the shutout.
For the first weekend of play in December, the top two teams in the league will face off in Colorado Springs as Pikes Peak Miners host the league leading Aspen Leafs. Breckenridge heads east Friday to take on the Colorado Rampage at Colorado Sports Center—puck drops at 8:00 pm, and again at 5:30 Saturday. Front range fans are encouraged to head over to South Suburban Ice Arena at 8:00 pm both Friday and Saturday nights to watch the matchup between the Colorado Thunderbirds and Glacier Yetis.