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Titans hockey notches two more wins over weekend

Outscore opponents 16-2over two games

by Than Acuff

The Crested Butte Titans boys hockey team tallied two more league wins last weekend as they outscored Woodland Park 16-2.

While the scores appear to indicate a near-perfect weekend for the Titans hockey team, coach Jake Johnstone did have some cause for concern as the team struggled to carry out their game plan over the course of the two games.

“The weekend was all right but Saturday they didn’t play well at all,” says Johnstone.

The team took to the ice Friday, December 8 to face the Woodland Park Panthers, a relative unknown to the Titans team. In fact, Johnstone plans on preparing his team for each game as if nothing is known about their opponent.

“Teams change each year and you never know how they are going to play,” says Johnstone. “We’re just trying hard to instill in the players that we play our style and our level every time.”

The Titans carried that mantra into their first game against Woodland Park to put together three periods of solid hockey en route to a 7-1 win. Kaden Hardesty and Matthew Solanik each scored in the first four minutes of the game and Joseph Stock netted the Titans’ third goal in the ninth minute as the Titans closed the first period with a 3-0 lead.

It took the Titans a bit longer to get back on the scoring track in the second period until Hardesty scored his second and third goals of the game late in the period and then Sam Stepanek and Stock each scored in the third period before Woodland Park finally found the back of the net late in the game.

“I’m trying to get them to move the puck quicker and we did that and played our style,” says Johnstone. “Friday was exactly what I had been looking for out of these guys. We’re trying to give them a lot of options with the puck and I think on Friday we started to see a step in the right direction.”

Unfortunately, the Titans seemingly abandoned their style of play in their second game against Woodland Park on Saturday, December 9.

“Saturday was just a lot of skaters trying to be individuals out there instead of playing as a team,” says Johnstone. “That lets teams stick around and that can be dangerous.”

That almost came true on Saturday as the Titans finished the first period notched in a scoreless tie with Woodland Park and then had a precarious 2-0 lead at the end of the second period, with the goals coming from Chris Myers on a power play and Ted Trujillo.

Crested Butte finally woke up to score seven goals in the third period for the 9-1 win but it was far from satisfying for Johnstone.

“I had a little talk with them,” says Johnstone. “Overall, Saturday was sloppy. It was one of those games where we were in the penalty box a lot and I tell them all of the time, keep your egos in check. We are a five-on-five team.”

Johnstone will continue to work with his players this week to tighten up certain aspects of their game as they prepare for their first home games of the season on Friday and Saturday, December 15-16.

“We still need to work on our D zones and making better decisions with the puck,” says Johnstone.

The Titans will host Mullen in Gunnison on Friday, December 15 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, December 16 at noon.

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