It was January 28 when the Aspen Leafs lost their last game, a 6-5 overtime loss to the Steamboat Wranglers. Since then, Aspen has rattled off 11 straight victories. In their final game in the RMJHL regular season, the Leafs came from behind in dramatic fashion Saturday night to defeat the Colorado Thunderbirds 5-4, clinching home ice advantage for the first round of the RMJHL playoffs.
With just over seven minutes left in the third period at Lewis Arena, forward Corey Kane scored to put the Leafs up 3-2. Seemingly poised to cruise to victory, the Thunderbirds Devin Coombe and Joe Losasso responded with two quick goals to take a 4-3 lead. With time running out and home ice advantage on the line for the first round of RMJHL playoff action, veteran Leafs players Tom Bowe and Boston Lindlahr tallied two goals :39 apart in the final minutes to lift Aspen to an impressive victory.
With the win, Aspen finishes the regular season tied with Steamboat in the standings with an identical 26-10 overall record (56 points). Based on tie breaker rules, the Leafs secured the 2nd seed entering the RMJHL playoffs, and will host the Wranglers in a best of three playoff series Friday and Saturday night (7:00 pm) at the Aspen Ice Garden. Game three (if necessary) is Sunday afternoon at 1:00, also at the Ice Garden in downtown Aspen. With only four teams in the playoffs, the Leafs inch closer to defending their RMJHL championship title from last season.
The Thunderbirds can clinch the fourth and final playoff spot with a win Sunday afternoon against the Colorado Rampage. The winner of this game will face the top seed Pikes Peak Miners in Colorado Springs next weekend, also in a best of three series. After the first round concludes, the top seeded team will host a best of three weekend series March 24-26 to determine the RMJHL championship. Last season the Aspen Leafs claimed the inaugural title by defeating the Miners in overtime 4-3.