Outscore opponents 21-0 over weekend
One key aspect to any successful season is to win the games you’re supposed to, and so far the Crested Butte Wolfpack hockey team is right on course.
They just finished up a solid run the past two weeks with wins over Gunnison and then Durango last week. They headed up to Craig this past weekend to rattle off three more league wins over the Bulldogs.
Craig is struggling this season, sitting at the bottom of the standings without a win so, while the overall three-game result was no surprise, it was remarkable in some ways as the Wolfpack scored 21 goals and held the Bulldogs scoreless through three games, with several players contributing on offense.
Furthermore, coach John Mortell wanted to get more out of his team than just three wins.
“I had them focused on running their power play, running their penalty kill and their offensive systems,” says Mortell. “Everything was about sharpening our skills. I wanted them to play the hockey they know how to play and they did it and they did it well.”
The Wolfpack opened the three-game road trip Saturday afternoon with a 7-0 win, including scoring in the first minute of play as Dakota Wiggins finished on an assist from defenseman Liam Mortell. Another defenseman got on the score sheet when Danny Stoneberg scored six minutes later and a goal from Danny D’Aquila put the Wolfpack on top 3-0 at the end of the first period.
Wiggins netted his second goal of the game and the team’s leading scorers Sam Reaman and Ian Dethloff followed with one goal apiece. Axel Deer capped the barrage with a power play goal in the third period for the 7-0 Wolfpack win.
“They were just flying from the second the puck dropped,” says Mortell.
The Wolfpack continued to punish the Bulldogs later that day in the second match-up with Craig.
Once again the Wolfpack struck less than a minute into the game as Reaman scored off an assist from Stoneberg. Ashton Mabry joined the Wolfpack scoring machine four minutes later for a 2-0 Wolfpack lead.
Both Mabry and Reaman struck again in the second period and then Dethloff finished the game with two goals off assists from D’Aquila and Gage Meredith for the 6-0 Wolfpack win.
The two teams met for a third time on Sunday and rather than coast off the first two wins to cruise through the third game, the Wolfpack continued to push the pace with more players joining in on the scoring run.
“They were just playing well,” says Mortell.
Gus Hensley scored twice on Sunday with additional strikes coming from Wiggins, Mabry, Reaman, Dethloff and Deer as Crested Butte skated to an 8-0 shutout win.
When all was said and done, 10 different Wolfpack players either scored or assisted over the three-game stretch, including a couple of points coming from the defensemen.
“That was something I knew they had but wanted to see out of the defensemen,” says Mortell. “They’re tentative against the stronger teams but now we have our offense backing up our defense and that’s huge.”
Even more impressive was making it through three games without giving up a single goal.
“Shutting them out was something I definitely didn’t expect,” says Mortell. “I’ve got the best goalies in the league. Montana and Cameron are on fire.”
With five wins in a row under their belt and systems in place, Mortell is looking to take his team to the next level.
“Basically, they passed Hockey 101 and we’re moving on,” says Mortell. “The plan is to move into some new systems add new power plays and new breakouts.”
The Wolfpack returns to the road for the last time this season until playoffs as they head to Telluride this weekend to take on the San Juan Wild.
Following that, they start a month-long home stand at Big Mine Ice Arena as they make a run at the post season.