Defending champions defeated
[ by Than Acuff ]
The Crested Butte town league hockey season opened Monday, January 10 at Big Mine Ice Arena and first impression is that it’s going to be an awesome season.
REG faced the defending town league champion Clark’s Market in the first game of the year and both teams looked in mid-season form. Some of that can be chalked up to the Gunnison fall leagues as I am sure several players have been at it for a couple of months already but still, it was some fast-paced, high energy hockey during which organization and positioning made the ultimate difference as REG engineered a 6-3 win.
As the teams took to the ice to warm up, Clark’s had the advantage in numbers and, arguably, in talent and it opened that way as Clark’s struck in the first minute of the game when James Brennan picked the puck off an REG player behind the net and fed Alex Albers in the slot for the goal.
Meanwhile, the Clark’s defense looked solid led by Ashley Brown as she shut down a centering pass by REG as they looked to tie the game.
But Clark’s frantic pace and chaos would ultimately be their undoing as REG remained cool-headed and their structural continuity provided the necessary deflection under the ebb and flow of Clark’s dynamic load.
REG defenseman Justin Blair then took a moment to take matters into his own hands turning on the afterburners up the boards and firing a shot on goal. The puck smacked off the post and right back to Blair who made his second chance count to tie the game 1-1.
REG had a couple additional chances midway through the period but Clark’s goalie Eric DiMarco turned away a couple shots in close and Blair rang the pipe a second time but without a rebound finish.
Clark’s dominated the final three minutes of the first period looking to go back on top but final touches near the net were off and REG goalie Nicholas Mikeska stacked the pads to stuff Albers in close leaving the teams tied 1-1.
There was no way that frantic pace of both teams could continue but, remarkably, it did as they continued to push back and forth. REG scored the next two goals as Betty Welsh skated up the wing to find Henrik Forsling open in the slot with a centering pass and Forsling finished. Five minutes later Max Carroll fed Dodson Harper for another REG strike and they were sitting pretty with a 3-1 lead.
Only problem was Matt Whiting decided enough was enough and answered right back for Clark’s 15 seconds later to hold REG in check.
DiMarco then went a little DiCrazy skating out of his net after a puck looking to play it up the boards. REG read the move though and Forsling found himself all alone in front of the net with no goalie to score his second of the night to rebuild the two-goal REG lead.
But Clark’s responded almost immediately once again as Brennan scored 25 seconds later.
A minute later REG was back up two goals when Harper skated coast-to-coast to slip in a backhand and take a 5-3 lead into the third period.
Clark’s has some firepower though and the stage was set for a third period comeback. Only problem was, that never happened as REG held off the Clark’s attack for the entire third period and then scored an empty net goal to finish off Clark’s Market 6-3.