Much improved play
With Big Mine Ice Arena open and a couple preseason games under their belt it appears the Crested Butte Wolfpack hockey team is on track.
While they lost their regular season opening games to Moffat County in Craig on Sunday, December 20, the team is playing some of their best hockey of the season and are primed for a breakthrough any game now.
Moffat County has been skating since mid-August and already racked up a number of impressive wins against top tier league opponents. According to Wolfpack coach Rob Bramwell, Moffat County may be one of, if not the, best teams in the league.
“They’re one of the top two teams,” says Bramwell. “I think they’re the team to beat.”
Fortunately, the Wolfpack team has been squeezing in some key ice time and it showed against Moffat County.
“More ice time certainly helped,” says Bramwell.
The Wolfpack dominated the first of two games against Moffat County on Sunday, December 20 holding the puck in their zone a majority of all three periods.
Unfortunately, despite out-skating and out-shooting Moffat County, the Wolfpack still lost 2-1 as Moffat County’s goalie proved nearly impenetrable.
“Their goalie was outstanding,” says Bramwell.
The Wolfpack peppered the Moffat County net with shots and rebounds but the goalie was there for nearly every save,
Moffat County took a 1-0 lead four minutes into the game but the Wolfpack finally found a seam in the 12th minute on a power play.
Ben Reaman followed on a shot and stuffed the rebound through to tie the game 1-1.
Yet just when the Wolfpack was looking good, Moffat County won the ensuing draw and scored to take the lead 2-1.
The two teams played scoreless hockey the next two periods as Wolfpack goalie Nicholas Mikeska matched Moffat County’s goalie save for save and Moffat County held on for the 2-1 win.
“We were breaking the puck out well, passing the puck tape-to-tape,” says Bramwell. “It was one of the better games I’ve seen them skate.”
Conditioning paced Moffat County to a 3-1 win in the second game as they worked their deep bench against the Wolfpack’s three lines.
Mikeska was stellar in net once again holding Moffat County scoreless through the first period.
Moffat County broke the scoreless tie in the second period to take a 2-0 lead but the Wolfpack responded in the fourth minute of the third period when Ricky Sandoval netted a rebound.
Moffat County iced the win two minutes later with their third goal to hold off a Wolfpack comeback.
“I was happy with the day,” says Bramwell. “I think we’re making big strides every practice. We’re getting faster, stronger and getting our lines set.”
The Wolfpack have the annual Alumni game this Saturday, December 26 at Big Mine Ice Arena at 7 p.m. They will return to league play on Sunday, January 3 when they host Kremmling at Big Mine Ice Arena. Games are at 8 and 9:30 a.m.