“I think we’re on a good path, but it’s not an end product”
by Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Titans hockey team scored 16 goals over two games to knock off both Mullen and Rampart over the past weekend.
The Titans were fresh off a 9-0 win over Mullen the week before and so when the two teams met for the second time in one week, it was immediately apparent Mullen had a game plan in place.
“Mullen came out really hard and they were trying to establish a physical game from the get-go,” says coach Joey Otsuka.
Mullen opened the scoring 90 seconds into the game but the Titans responded as Luke Collins scored during a power play and Graham Barrett added a second goal two minutes later. Mullen tied the game up midway through the first period but the Titans closed it out strong as Barrett and Patrick Seifert each scored for a 4-2 Titans lead.
“Our guys weren’t distracted by their physical play and were just focused on the way they wanted to play the game,” says Otsuka.
Four and a half minutes into the second period, Mullen pulled back to within one, but the Titans then erupted for four unanswered goals started off by a short-handed goal from Lucas Solanik. Seifert followed with two goals to complete the hat trick and Slater Weil capped the onslaught with a goal late in the period for an 8-3 Titans advantage.
“I don’t think we changed anything. They just couldn’t keep up their pace any longer,” says Otsuka.
Josh Wallin scored one final goal for the Titans six minutes into the third period and the Titans cruised to the 9-3 win.
The Titans returned to the ice on Saturday, January 28 to face the Rampart Rams. The Titans took down Rampart earlier in the season in Gunnison and Otsuka was expecting Rampart to come out set on avenging the early-season loss.
Instead, Rampart opened the game flat as the Titans outshot Rampart 21-2 in the first period to build a 3-1 lead with Seifert, Wallin and Collins all scoring.
Rampart closed the gap 10 minutes into the second period but when Colten Crittendon and Michael Hensley scored in a two-minute span, the Titans were sitting on a comfortable 5-2 lead.
Rampart tallied one last goal in the 11th minute of the third period but Solanik and Barrett scored within 30 seconds of each other to finish Rampart off for good, 7-3.
“It was a good game and our guys played well,” says Otsuka. “I thought we could have played a little more disciplined.”
The Titans now head into a frantic close to the regular season with six games over the next 12 days. They open with two in Pueblo this weekend against Pueblo, a team that has been on a rollercoaster ride of a season going toe-to-toe with some of the top teams while dropping games to some of the softer teams.
“Those are going to be some tough games,” says Otsuka.
The Titans then host the top team in their league, Valor Christian, in Gunnison on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 7-8.
“I think we’re on a good path, but it’s not an end product,” says Otsuka. “This is a big 12 days coming up and I like where we’re at, but we still have a lot of work to do.”