What the puck?
by Than Acuff
The annual Wolfpack Alumni hockey game pits the current Crested Butte high school team, now known as the Titans, against former players of the old high school age team, the Wolfpack.
It’s a rite of passage for the younger high school players as they get a glimpse into the past of local hockey and a wake up call for said past players as they are reminded that, yes, even at the young age of 30, time has passed and while you may still think you got it, you don’t.
Every year I expect the former players to hand the current high school team a schooling as a handful of the alums are in the midst of or fresh off of collegiate play while another group of them are still engaged in hockey at the adult level wherever they play.
Then again, some of the alum haven’t skated since the last alumni game the year before, or even in the past several years, and that can make for some erratic hockey at best. Throw in a deep bench with leadership by democracy and things get a little out of control. Not to mention the presence of adult beverages.
As a result, the high school team has dominated the alumni game for the past several years with the only alumni win coming in 2014. Last year the alumni fell to the high school 8-4 but with Jake Sunter on tap to “coach” the alumni team, the hope was that a little organization may pay off.
“We’re going to have to start fast in the first period and finish hard in the third,” said Sunter. “If we go with quick shifts, we’ll win this game.”
Furthermore, in past years the alumni bench was overflowing with players eager to relive their glory days making for a mess of line changes. This year though, numbers on the alumni bench were manageable and things were looking good.
Except for the fact that a couple of alumni opted to suit up with the high school team. Specifically Danny Stoneberg who is playing Junior hockey in the Boston area, Ashton Mabry who is closing out his career with a AAA program and the incomparable Remy Zanotto back from Canada.
That influx of talent tipped the pregame scales in the favor of the high school team and ultimately played out on the ice as the Titans skated to a 6-3 win.
The evening, as all holiday season should be, was a family affair with the Reamans in attendance, the Evans, the Curtiss, the Collins and three generations of Coburns.
Both goalies, alumni Montana Wiggins and Titan Cam Curtiss, were strong in their efforts in net facing at least 40 shots each. It was what happened or didn’t happen, i.e. playing defense, everywhere else that made the difference.
The game got off to another tremendous start as the Titans struck first in the opening minutes when Patrick Seifert punched home a rebound for a 1-0 Titans lead.
The alumni continued to press though with the efforts of Nathan Lacy, Dylan Curtiss, the Reaman brothers, Isaac Evans, Collin Dill doing most of the damage. Dakota Wiggins still has a spring in his step and used hustle as his main game and there’s always the older guard that laid the foundation for success with the three amigos John Tharpe, Daniel Hargrove and Mo Gillie teaming up. Senior on the bench was Willy Coburn, just 30 years old.
As both Montana and Cam proved diligent in net, the teams entered the second period with just one goal separating them and that’s when things started going well, then bad, then good and then bad and then bad again for the alumni.
The alumni tied the game two minutes into the second period when Dill found Ben Reaman open with a pass across the slot and Ben stuffed it home tying the game 1-1, good.
Two minutes later though, the Titans were set up in the alumni zone and playing keep away. The culmination of their composed effort came in the fourth minute of the second period as Stoneberg circled around in the zone with the puck while the alumni scrambled and then fed Teddy Trujillo in the high slot for a quick wrist shot and a 2-1 Titans lead, bad.