Blake is back in black
by Than Acuff
No refs for the one game I had scheduled to cover last week meant no game, which meant no coverage. Nobody’s fault, either. I’m just bummed I didn’t get to spend a bunch of column inches about Trump’s sh**hole comment. Now it’s just old and not news.
As a result, I will just cover the game.
The Talk of the Town and REG faced off Monday, January 22 in Crested Butte town league hockey action. REG was adorned in their light blue uniforms and the Talk of the Town in black, as in, I blacked out after drinking at the Talk of the Town black. Couldn’t think of a better color for the Talk of the Town.
Hockey talk around the league had REG pegged as a powerhouse with a stacked roster and Zach Vaughter in net but short benches on both teams proved to be the equalizer. That and the effort of Ryan Kay in net for the Talk and the fact that the Talk took advantage of the few chances they had, much like the Talk of the Town dating scene. And, the fact that Blake Claflin is back.
Claflin was a constant on the local hockey scene back in the good old Storm vs. Pigs days and the open air, snow banks and boards with no glass, town league days. He hasn’t stepped on the Crested Butte ice in years, at least in a town league capacity. But now he’s back…on the Talk… in black.
REG opened in control, dominating puck possession, skating around the Talk like they were practice cones and scoring in the second minute of the game as Steve Banks scored off an assist from Brian Buchannon.
Talk players Chelsea Wilson and Nathan Lacy did what they could to move the puck up ice, but Rocco Guaragno (the latest best name in local hockey, where have you gone Sohrob Nimrouzi) was on defense to stifle all Talk counterattacks.
Meanwhile, REG proceeded to set up shop and fire shots, but the more shots Kay saw, the better he got in net, turning away everything thrown his way.
The Talk took a cue from Kay’s effort in net and started finding their mojo with quality passing to get the puck through neutral ice only to stall in the attacking zone. Nevertheless, the effort did put a stop to REG’s assault until the ninth minute when Guaragno took the puck straight up the middle and fired a shot past Kay to give REG a 2-0 lead.
But before they could really open things up, the Talk struck back a minute later as Matisse Baugh shot from the blue line and Wilson tipped it past Vaughter to close the first period on a high note.
The goal appeared to stun REG as they struggled to mount any cohesive attack in the second period while the Talk remained composed and Kay continued to stand on his head in net.
The two teams skated through a scoreless second period and then the Talk struck again during a power play in the opening minutes of the third period to cause further disarray. Claflin’s shot from the point caused a melee in the slot: Wilson jumped on the rebound, Vaughter denied but Rusty Thompson was pressed into the slot as well and tipped the puck just past Vaughter to tie the game 2-2.
The second goal had the Talk fired up and continuing to press. REG had its random looks on net but passing was the name of the game and the Talk struck again in the fifth minute as Mike Preston skated in, drew two defenders, dished it off to Baugh who then fed it back to Preston in the slot for the tip goal and a 3-2 Talk lead.
The Talk almost fell into the trap of playing not to lose rather than playing to win and REG was threatening to tie it up but the Talk’s defensive shape made the difference as they packed the slot and cleared the puck of trouble to hang on for the 3-2 win.