Host Pueblo County this weekend
by Than Acuff
After decimating Resurrection Christian on Wednesday, January 8 with a score of 7-1, the Crested Butte Titans hockey team dropped both games on the road to Summit Friday and Saturday, January 10-11, and are sitting in the middle of the Peak Conference standings with a conference record of 2-4, 5-5 overall.
The Titans came out firing from the opening face-off against the Resurrection Christian Cougars, outpacing the Cougars up and down the ice. Pressure high up the ice opened the door for the Titans’ first goal two minutes into the game when Joseph Stock stripped the puck off a Cougar as they looked to breakout and fed Connor Chinn crashing the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars tied the game midway through the first period but the Titans continued to set the pace and tone for the game yet struggled to find any gaps past the Cougars’ outstanding goalie.
Crested Butte’s work ultimately paid off in the second period as they scored four unanswered goals. It all started in the third minute when Chinn tipped in a shot by Matthew Solanik. Two minutes later the Titans were on the powerplay and took their time moving the puck around to eventually set up jack Lambert in the slot for Crested Butte’s third goal of the game. Stock tacked on a fourth goal off an assist from Adam Collins in the eighth minute and then Solanik closed the period scoring in the final minute for a 5-1 Titans lead.
“We woke up and started moving our feet more, got on the powerplay more and just got things going,” says assistant captain Chris Myers.
With the game well in hand, Crested Butte kept pushing and tacked on two more goals in the third period. Stock scored his second goal of the game four minutes in off an assist from Chinn and then Chinn completed the hat trick to ice the 7-1 win.
The good feeling of the mid-week win was soon washed away though, as Crested Butte hit the road to face Summit. Summit sits at the top of the Peak Conference standings and has developed into a stout high school hockey opponent.
They netted two goals in the first period of the game Friday night before Crested Butte struck back late when Myers scored off an assist from Solanik. But Summit’s play continued to frustrate the Titans as they scored three more goals over the next two periods to skate away with a 5-1 win.
“They’re a very well-organized team with very well run systems,” says Myers. “It gets hard to defend that and generate any offense. We weren’t playing as a team and cooperating with each other on the ice.”
Adding insult to injury, the Titans lost goalie Shaughn Rourke to an infraction late in the game and would be forced to play without him in their second game against Summit on Saturday.
Summit opened the scoring again on Saturday but the Titans responded when Chinn scored in the 10th minute to keep the team locked in a 1-1 tie.
Summit then rattled off a quick strike early in the second period and added a third goal in the 12th minute looking to put the game away. Crested Butte did close the period with another goal as Graham Barrett scored to pull back within one but Summit finished scoring three more goals in the third period, sealing the Crested Butte’s demise 6-3.
“We played a much better game but had moments when small mistakes led to goals for Summit,” says Myers. “Jack [Perkins] did amazing in goal for his first varsity game ever. Summit just played together and for each other with their systems dialed in.”
The Titans return home this weekend as they host the Pueblo County Hornets Friday, January 17 in Gunnison at 7 p.m. and then again on Saturday, January 18 at 2:30 p.m.
“In the past they’ve been a hard-hitting team,” says Myers. “We need a good week of practice and motivation from the older guys so the younger players can play confident and not scared.”