Titans hockey takes two from Pueblo County

“We got our jump back”

by Than Acuff

Sometimes a bad weekend is just what a team needs to get the players back on track and in sync. At least that was what the Crested Butte Titans hockey team needed as they got smashed by Summit two weekends ago on the road, but came back the next weekend to hand the Pueblo County Hornets back-to-back losses on Friday and Saturday, January 17-18.

“The games in Summit were awful,” says assistant coach Bob Piccaro. “We were flat, no one was on the right page. Some weekends you just don’t have it.”

Following the outing, the team returned to workouts with far more focus and spent the week prior to their games against Pueblo getting their mojo back.

“We had some heartfelt talks with the team and got back on track and had a great week of practice,” explains Piccaro. “Sometimes you got to play bad to regroup.”

The week of workouts culminated in two great games from the Titans against Pueblo, opening Friday night as they skated to a 3-0 shutout win.

The game started out rough as the Titans racked up several penalties in the first period and were handcuffed with numerous penalty kill situations. Rather than let that get under their skin, Crested Butte carried on with their penalty kills and held Pueblo scoreless through it all to keep the game notched 0-0 by the end of the first period.

Once again the Titans found themselves in a penalty kill in the opening minutes of the second period but they made the most of it as Graham Barrett scored a short-handed goal to put the Titans on the scoreboard. Four minutes later Joseph Stock scored off an assist from Adam Collins and Crested Butte was on top 2-0 heading into the third period. Matthew Solanik tacked on a third Titans goal in the first minute of the final period and the Titans killed off four more penalties throughout the period to seal the 3-0 win. All told, Crested Butte finished the game with 11 successful penalty kills.

“We found some guys that work well on penalty kills and they worked hard through it all,” says Piccaro.

Crested Butte then twisted the throttle a little more in Saturday’s game, playing noticeably faster than Pueblo County, winning nearly every puck battle and beating the Hornets up and down the ice. While their effort set up numerous chances on net, the Titans struggled to punch it past Pueblo’s goalie and soon found themselves down 1-0 at the end of the first period.

“Their goalie was a modern day Dominik Hasek,” says Piccaro.

The relentless pressure and pace by Crested Butte finally bore fruit in the second period when Jackson Smith tied the game two minutes in. Pueblo’s goalie continued to stymie the Titan shooters though, until Barrett followed on a shot from Chris Myers to poke in the rebound and put Crested Butte on top 2-1.

Crested Butte remained on the gas through the third period as well and tacked on two more goals. Elijah Waters’ effort behind the net set up Braydon Duncan in front for a goal and then Jack Lambert scored on a powerplay later in the period for the 4-1 win.

“It was the total opposite of what happened the week before,” says Piccaro. “We got our jump back.”

The varsity has this weekend off but return to play next week as they hit the road to face Glenwood Springs on Friday, January 31 and then host Battle Mountain Saturday, February 1 at 5:30 p.m. in Gunnison.

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