Home game this Friday
[ By Than Acuff ]
After a slow start, the Crested Butte Titans hockey team rallied last weekend during an extended powerplay in the second period and eventually wore down Air Academy high school to skate to a 7-1 win.
Confidence was high heading into the home game on Friday, December 9 as the Titans had just taken down Liberty the week before and Air Academy had fallen to Liberty, but Air Academy proved more than what those comparative score lines showed.
“They hadn’t won a game yet so I’m sure they were hungry to win their first game and they came out fast,” says coach Billy Watson. “
While the Titans started out a bit erratic, Watson continued to shuffle his lines into the game with the bigger picture of the season in mind.
“One of our goals for that game was to see how some of our kids would react at the varsity level,” says Watson. “It was good exposure for those third and fourth lines.”
The Titans eventually opened the scoring in the eighth minute of the game when Grady Buckhanan slipped a pass across the slot to Grady Dietrich and Dietrich stuffed the puck in.
Titans goalie Jordan Silva then came up with a couple key saves during a penalty kill and Crested Butte closed out the first period better than they started it but still just one goal up.
“We weren’t able to bury open nets like we had been, and we didn’t come out as strong as we should have,” says Watson.
Air Academy then opened the second period scoring in the first minute resulting in scrappy play from both squads for most of the second period. The tides turned in Crested Butte’s favor in the 13th minute when Air Academy was hit with a five-minute major penalty, leaving the Titans in the powerplay for the rest of the period.
Crested Butte jumped on the opportunity as a good zone entry set up their next goal when Buckhanan found Rocky Marchitelli open in the high slot and Marchitelli fired the shot past the Air Academy goalie to retake the lead. Less than a minute later Marchitelli struck again as he poked the puck in amidst a melee in the slot for a 3-1 lead by the end of the second period.
“It’s always nice when you put a couple away,” says Watson. “Both lines of our powerplay are producing really well but we still have some fine tuning to do.”
Crested Butte carried their momentum from the two-goal outburst at the end of the second period into the third period and started to wear Air Academy down as Watson continued to utilize his bench to put the wood to Air Academy. The Titans scored their fourth goal five minutes into the third period when Colm Piccaro flipped a high pass up ice and Buckhanan chased it down to skate to net and score. Midway through the third period the Titans powerplay struck again as Cael Medina blasted a shot through traffic for a 5-1 lead and Dietrich and Connor Zummach finished it off scoring goals in the final two minutes with assists coming from Blue Gardner and Medina to close out the 7-1 win.
“I think that was the secret to that third period,” says Watson. “Our top line is still fresh while theirs is not and that’s thanks to the work of our third line. That’s something we hope to do all season.”
The Titans host Kent Denver in Gunnison on Friday, December 16 at 7 p.m. and then head to Cheyenne on Saturday, December 17.