“They’re playing great hockey”
The Crested Butte Wolfpack hockey team racked up another league win last Wednesday, taking down the Gunnison Blades 9-4 at Big Mine Ice Arena.
They’ve been red hot as of late, rattling off a series of wins and improving their record to 8-4. And every week, coach John Mortell asks just a little bit more of the team. And they continue to respond.
As the team prepared for the game with Gunnison, Mortell decided it was time to add in another breakout to the Wolfpack’s game plan.
“We practiced it all week and had it in place and it worked really well,” says Mortell.
So much so that after one period of play, Crested Butte was sitting on a 5-0 lead with goals coming from five different players. Earlier in the season Sam Reaman and Ian Dethloff carried a majority of the scoring weight, but now everyone is getting involved.
“We’ve been practicing more offensive creativity and it showed,” says Mortell. “Everyone’s looking for the puck and still playing defense.”
Isaac Evans put the Wolfpack on the board two minutes into the game, with Gus Hensley adding another strike a minute later. Things for the Wolfpack cooled off the next six minutes but they opened it up again as Danny D’Aquila and Dethloff scored 11 seconds apart. Reaman finished the first period outburst, scoring in the 13th minute.
Down 5-0, the Blades picked up their play in the second period to match wits with the Wolfpack.
“I could see that their energy was picking up,” says Mortell.
The effort paid off for the Blades as they scored two goals in three minutes, with strikes coming from Ian Obanion and Payson Whinnery. While Mortell still felt comfortable with the lead and the way the Wolfpack was playing, his captains, Liam Mortell and D’Aquila, refocused the team to finish the second period strong.
“Liam and Danny-boy are the ones that brought the team’s energy back up,” says Mortell.
The team responded to close the second period with two more goals as Josh Melnick scored in the 13th minute and D’Aquila added his second goal of the night 30 seconds later for a 7-2 Wolfpack lead going into the third period.
Melnick scored his second goal of the night four minutes into the third period before Gunnison could respond, as Quinn Travis scored on a powerplay.
Ashton Mabry joined in on the Wolfpack attack a minute later to score and Obanion finished things off for the Blades with his second goal of the night, before Crested Butte clamped down on defense for good to finish off the 9-4 win.
Crested Butte has seven league games left and is looking to secure a spot in the post-season starting this weekend as they host Arvada and Hylands. Games on Saturday are at 4:45 and 8:30 p.m., and on Sunday at 9 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.
“We’re playing great hockey,” says Mortell. “If we play the way we should, we can come away with four wins this weekend.”
Following this weekend, Mortell will look to push his team a little more by trying out some new systems as they head into the final stretch and into the playoffs.
“I have one more level of systems to try out,” says Mortell. “But basically we’ll be fine-tuning and getting better at the game we’re playing.”