Although the Breckenridge Bucks remain in third place after their weekend series with the Pikes Peak Miners, the Bucks continue to edge a little closer to the top two spots in the league. An overtime win on Friday against the Miners not only awarded them two points for their stellar play, but impeded the Miners dominance as the lone first place team – they now share the top spot with the Aspen Leafs as both teams have earned 42 points so far.
The New Year’s Eve contest between the Bucks and Miners began with Breckenridge scoring the first and only goal of the first period. However, it didn’t take long for Pikes Peak to tilt the ice and score four straight goals in the second. Joe Obuck, Logan Parsley, and Paul Norris – notching a pair – all found the back of the net in the second frame. “Our team played a discipline system in both games,” Bucks head coach Jesse Davis added. “We stuck to it, played very well on Thursday.” “Two costly mistakes, however, wound up resulting in goals for Pikes Peak.” Down by three goals early in the third, the Bucks were able to score a couple of short-handed goals to bring them within one, but the Miners held on for the 5-4 win.
New Year’s day at Stephen C. Arena in Breckenridge started off as a defensive battle as both goalies, Matty Taylor for the Miners and Lincon Riley for the Bucks, played outstanding for their respective clubs. The focused netminders denied all shots in the first and had only allowed two each by the end of regulation. The crowd went nuts when alternate captain Milou Lofstrom clinched the overtime shootout win for the Bucks, sneaking one past Taylor. “We regrouped on Friday for the win,” Davis added. “We had a very short bench due to injuries and a player out of town – nevertheless, we fought thru it and played well.” “Both of our goalies this past weekend were outstanding."
At the Ice Garden in Aspen, the Leafs cruised in two games defeating the Thunderbirds 10-2 Friday night and 10-2 Saturday. The Leafs, who special teams statistics lead all Tier-3 teams nationwide, netted nine power goals on the weekend. Aspen’s Tom Bowe scored two goals on Friday, and four goals Saturday for a 7-point weekend. Teammates Andrew Lee and Viachaslav Goev were big playmakers as well with 4 goals and 16 assists between the two. On Saturday night, Lee recorded a double play-maker (6 assists) in an impressive performance. Aspen outshot the Thunderbirds Friday night 44-22 and 58-28 Saturday night.
In Grand Junction, the Glacier Yetis played three games against the Colorado Rampage – one of the games a makeup from the snowstorm in November. Although the Yetis lost all three to the Rampage, their shifting roster, new head coach appointed in November, and a new system all are beginning to gel. Grand Junction’s head coach Brian Cersosimo noted “[they] are now competitive in every game and have [their] chances. The more familiar [his] players get with the system, the more confidence they get.”
Friday’s game between the Yetis and Rampage was a nail biter. Tied at three apiece until late in the third, Rampage defenseman Thomas Berger squeaked one past Yeti goalie Ryan Kostelnik with just a couple minutes to spare to give them the win.
Saturday, it was the Yetis that had the 1-0 lead going into the second after an even strength goal by Trevor Haertl, but a couple of goals by the Rampage’s Reed Grignano and teammates Ty Ayers and Jason Rivera was more than the Yetis could match. When asked about the lead slipping away, Cersosimo found that the “same thing happened Sunday as well, but as we add new players, we get out of sync as they are learning the style of play we want, so it will take time to find that consistency that practices can cure.”
The three wins for the Rampage enabled them to pull away from the now fifth place Colorado Thunderbirds. The T-birds suffered a couple of 10-2 losses to the Leafs to start the new year. The T-birds had a strong showing in the first period of both games but the powerful skating and physical game of the Leafs was too much for the Littleton team to overcome.
Some big matchups are on the docket this weekend within the league – Pikes Peak and Aspen (both tied for first), will face off this Friday and Saturday, 7:00 pm at the Aspen Ice Garden. Bucks and Rampage, who hold the third and fourth spots respectively, will go head to head in Monument, 8:00 pm Friday and again Saturday at 5:30 pm. The T-birds will host the Yetis at South Suburban at 8:00 pm both Friday and Saturday. Good luck everyone, and safe travels.