Opens regular season on fire
The Crested Butte Wolfpack high school hockey team opened the 2007-2008 regular season, crushing the Telluride Lizard Heads in back-to-back games on Saturday, December 22 in Telluride.
The Wolfpack came into the season flush with confidence as every player from last year’s team is back plus some new young talent.
Additionally, the team saw some success in pre-season tournaments in October and November, despite having no ice to practice on in the Gunnison Valley.
The team was shaken up a bit on Saturday, December 15, losing a scrimmage to the Gunnison Blades A team 7-1. Fortunately, a blast of cold temperatures allowed Crested Butte Parks and Recreation to open the local rink, Big Mine Ice Arena, offering the Wolfpack some essential ice time to work-out.
The four days of practice following the Gunnison loss made all the difference in the world, as the Wolfpack won both games of the Telluride double header outscoring the Lizard Heads 15-5.
“To turn it around after that and dominate Telluride was pretty good,” says Wolfpack head coach Phil Martin. “We played tremendous for four days of practice.”
The Wolfpack wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. In the first game against Telluride assistant captain John Tharp scored on an assist from assistant captain Nick Gainous 32 seconds into the first period.
The Lizard Heads tied the game three minutes later, but that would be the last goal for Telluride as Crested Butte proceeded to score the next eight goals.
Wolfpack player Robbie Holleran broke the 1-1 tie six minutes into the first period, hitting a shot off an assist from Tharp on a power play. Wolfpack team captain Quinn Langsfeld scored a minute later, Jenner Currier finished on a pass from Wolfpack goalie Zack Van Dyke two minutes after that and Holleran capped the first period frenzy with his second goal of the game, giving the Wolfpack a commanding 5-1 lead.
The second period continued much like the first period as the Wolfpack scored four more goals. Tharp netted the first two goals of the second period, including one short-handed goal, to finish the game with a hat trick. Holleran followed suit scoring his third goal of the game and Mo Gillie finished the Wolfpack mauling scoring on an assist from Ben Frame for the 9-1 win.
“Our breakouts in that first game were flawless,” says Martin.
About the only bad news from the game was the loss of Jake Sunter with a dislocated kneecap in the first period but Martin hopes to see Sunter back on the ice soon.
The second game was much closer with Crested Butte coming away with a 6-4 win. Martin attributes the difference in the second game in part to misfortune but mostly to fatigue.
“We weren’t getting bounces the right way,” explains Martin. “Conditioning played a role. We’re a little bit out of shape right now.”
The Lizard Heads struck first scoring two minutes into the first period. Eight minutes later, the Wolfpack seized the opportunity to tie the game when Holleran scored during a power play with the assist coming from Gainous.
A couple of the Wolfpack cubs got in on the scoring to break the tie, as Sam Evans fed Kyle Hecker for a goal, closing the first period with the Wolfpack up 2-1.
After a scoreless second period, the Lizard Heads tied the game 2-2 five minutes into the third period. But, the Wolfpack responded with three goals.
Tharp scored a power play goal, assisted by Holleran, Holleran converted a pass from Taylor Reeves for a fourth Crested Butte goal and Jack Linehan scored on an assist from Hecker to put the Wolfpack ahead 5-2 with seven minutes left in the game.
Telluride found the Crested Butte net two more times, but Holleran registered his second hat trick of the day in the 14th minute of the third period, for the 6-4 Wolfpack win.
Martin saw flashes of brilliance out of his team in the two games that day, especially from his defense.
“At times we were looking like mid-January form,” says Martin. “Our passing was so fluid through the neutral zone. Our defenseman played incredible: carrying the puck, holding it in and taking shots from the point.”
The Wolfpack will return home and host the annual Alumni game on Friday, December 28 at 7 p.m. at Big Mine Ice Arena. Their next league game is a rematch against the Gunnison Blades A team on Friday, January 11 at 7 p.m. at Big Mine Ice Arena.