Wolfpack splits games on Grand Valley road trip

Will Gunnison play their games in the Butte?

With a four-day-a-week practice schedule now in place, the Crested Butte Wolfpack hockey team is starting to pull together and showed continued signs of improvement during their two-day, four-game road stretch against Grand Valley A and B teams.



The Wolfpack was forced to play without scoring leader Robbie Holleran during the first two games of the weekend but the team rallied without him to put together two solid performances.
“Everyone else just anted up and worked their butts off,” says coach Rob Bramwell.
Sam Evans picked up the slack on the offensive end with help from teammates Ben Frame, Kyle Hecker and Connor McGuire in the opening game against the Grand Valley B team on Saturday, January 10.
Evans scored all five goals for the Wolfpack in the 5-0 shutout win, with two of the assists coming from Frame, one from McGuire and one from Hecker.
Evans netted two more strikes in the second game against the Grand Valley A team Saturday night.
Grand Valley A took a 1-0 lead at the start of the first period but McGuire found Evans for a goal in the closing minutes to tie the game 1-1.
Grand Valley A struck again to pull ahead 2-1 but Evans struck back on an assist from Jenner Currier, leaving the two teams deadlocked 2-2 heading into the third period.
Goalie Zach Van Dyke continued to turn away a flurry of shots in the third period, racking up 43 saves total when all was said and done, to hold the tie but Grand Valley slipped one more by to skate away with a 3-2 win over the Wolfpack.
Crested Butte met Grand Valley A again on Sunday morning hoping to avenge the previous loss.
Holleran was on hand to help with the effort but the A team proved too much once again. Holleran scored two, including a power play goal, but Grand Valley A managed to push four of their total 36 shots past Van Dyke for the 4-2 win.
The Wolfpack recovered from the back-to-back losses to take their frustration out on the Grand Valley B team Sunday afternoon, shelling the B team for a 13-0 win.
Holleran had four goals and four assists in the game, Evans had four goals and three assists, Frame scored two and assisted two, Currier had two goals, and Max Molitor poked one in.
Van Dyke sat the final game of the weekend out, a well-deserved break after a solid weekend of goaltending.
“Zach had an outstanding weekend,” says Bramwell.
The two wins and two losses give the Wolfpack a 5-5 record and put them in the middle of the RMYHL standings midway through the regular season.
More important, Bramwell saw an improved Wolfpack team and likes where they are thus far in the season.
“It’s the best I’ve seen them play all year,” says Bramwell. “Our legs are getting back under us, we’re winning more draws. I think we’re making some big steps forward.”

Will Blades play at Big Mine?

In related news, while it appeared the Crested Butte Parks and Recreation Department and the Gunnison Valley Hockey Association (GVHA) were at odds over hockey games in Crested Butte, the two entities have come to an agreement.
According to GVHA board vice president Mark Schumacher, the GVHA cited their concerns about the safety of Big Mine Ice Arena to the town of Crested Butte in November and offered to host all the Pee Wee, Bantam and Midget games at their rink in Gunnison.
“It was just so we could play at a safer rink,” says Schumacher.
Schumacher is concerned that the safety of the players is in jeopardy because of the chain link fence. He added that fees for use of the Gunnison ice would be waived to make the offer more amenable.
Crested Butte Parks and Recreation Director Jake Jones feels otherwise and points out that so does the Rocky Mountain Youth Hockey League.
“The league voted to allow all of the existing rinks in the league to be acceptable for play at all levels,” says Jones.
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“I want to follow through with the decision made by the Rocky Mountain Youth Hockey League (RMYHL).”
RMYHL board president Chris Reilly concurs.
“It was voted on and decided that games would be played there [in Crested Butte],” says Reilly. “The league is a democracy and the league voted on it.”
Due to RMYHL rules Gunnison would have been forced to forfeit the game.
“The league was very clear that teams that didn’t show up for any reason other than weather would forfeit,” says Jones.
Fortunately, it appears the two groups have come to a consensus without a forfeit. The GVHA and Jones agreed to reschedule the January 7 game in Crested Butte later this season and will continue to play the games as scheduled, including a second game in Crested Butte between the Gunnison Blades B team and the Wolfpack on Wednesday, January 21.
“At the end of the day Crested Butte and Gunnison are friends and neighbors and I’m committed to working on positive change for our rink and a better future for our players,” says Jones.

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