Mmmmm, Sheaf Stout
Pretty much any time I hear Acme Liquors, I’m reminded of some good times. It was 1992, a rainy summer and a precursor to one of the best ski seasons here in Crested Butte. I was camping up Cement Creek Road with my dog and working as a diver at Oscar’s Grubstake, with some additional part-time construction work on the Whiterock Lodge for this bonehead boss named Ted.
On one particular late afternoon the rain was coming down again and my friends and I had just finished riding the Secret Trail and I was looking for a way to pass the time before heading out to my soaking-wet tent with my soaking-wet dog.
There was a collection of vehicles in disrepair on the hillside kitty-corner from Crested Butte Auto. One such vehicle, a pea green VW bus, was especially inviting at the time, as was beer. But a cold beer after a cold ride on a cold day never quite sits right with me. Still, beer sounded good and I headed down to Acme Liquor next to True Value in the currently closed Buckaroo Beanery space.
After an extended period of indecision, I explained my predicament to the clerk. I wanted a beer that would warm the insides and wash away thoughts of a cold night in a wet tent but not inebriate, making it impossible to reach said wet tent at all.
Molly’s suggestion was Sheaf Stout. And oh, what a great suggestion it was. I grabbed the beer, rode back to the pea green VW bus, got inside it, drank that Sheaf Stout, the rain subsided, I rode home and slept particularly well that night. That would be the first of many post-ride, rainy-day Sheaf Stouts that summer.
Fast-forward 23 years. I no longer drink, the van is long gone (as is my dog), I live in a house and no longer wash dishes but instead, work for the local newspaper covering sports such as the town league hockey game between Acme Liquors and REG Inc. on Tuesday, January 20 at Big Mine Ice Arena.
Pretty much any time I hear Acme Liquors, I’m reminded of… just kidding.
Hopes were high, at least for me, that Acme Liquors would make it a game against the rising power of REG and for the first six minutes of the game, they did.
Mixing in heavy forechecking, unbridled hustle and a serious blue line presence, Acme Liquors had REG pinned in their own zone and were firing shots at will. REG goalie Zach Vandyke proved hard to beat on the initial onslaught but when Chuck “Blue Line Menace” McKenrick broke up another breakout, he found Mark Goldberg open just inside the face-off circle. Goldberg took the pass, deked Vandyke and scored for a 1-0 Acme lead.
The lead lasted all of about 40 seconds though, as REG fired right back when Kris Bruun wheeled around on his skates to slip a shot past Shawn Harrington.
Acme kept on coming though, like the warm feeling of Sheaf Stout coursing through your system on a rainy afternoon. While their no-holds-barred effort offered up another series of shots, it also opened them up to a counterattack and REG found a seam through neutral ice as Mark Cram hit Sam Evans midstride for a second REG goal.
REG won the ensuing face-off and scored again, seven seconds later, when Evans picked the inside of the far post with a blistering wrist shot and a 3-1 REG lead heading into the second period.
Acme picked up where they left off, owning the opening minutes of the second period and broke the seal once again when Goldberg followed on a shot by Nate Akell to flip the backhand over a diving Vandyke.
It was at this moment I was reminded of the sports-related saying, “Hard work beats talent when talent stops working hard.”
Or was it Yoda, who said, “There is no try, only do.”
Either way, the gist of the story was starting to play out until the final five minutes of the second period as REG rattled off five unanswered goals.
It all started when Evans went for the wraparound but was denied by Harrington, only to have Adam Chater crash on the rebound and bury it. One minute later Bruun cracked a slapshot top shelf off a pass from Matt Gutter. A minute after that, Cram scored when he followed on his own rebound. Twelve seconds after that, Evans completed his hat trick that night off an assist from James Allo and Dodson Harper put the finishing touches on the five-minute crushing, picking the low corner with a wrist shot for an 8-2 REG lead.
Evans and Allo connected once more, with Allo on the scoring end for a 9-2 lead, but Acme would not let up and their efforts came to fruition as they hit their rhythm once more. Pete Cook found Mike Wright open in front of the REG net and Wright fired a no-look-backhand shot past Vandyke. Acme struck again, crashing the net in force and whacking at a loose puck until Ed Dujardin shoved it in.
The rally fired up Acme, so much so that they pulled their goalie hoping to get a few more, only to have it backfire when Cram scored an empty net goal (God Crammit!) for the 10-4 REG win.