Injuries continue to plague team
[ by Than Acuff ]
While finishing their run last week coasting to a 9-0 win against Rampart was nice, it came at a cost as the Crested Butte Titans hockey team suffered more injuries that would keep additional players from the ice when they faced league opponent Durango on Wednesday, February 8.
“It’s been ongoing all season,” says coach Billy Watson.
The Titans took down Durango 2-1 not too long ago but now the Titans were on Durango’s ice and without two key defensemen Colm Piccaro and Brendan Hartigan among other players. As a result, the coaching staff moved forward Blue Gardner back to defense and inserted a couple of younger players into the forward lines. They did have Rocky Marchitelli back from injury, but he had been out a long time so would take some time to get back into the rhythm, especially against a team like Durango.
The two teams skated through a scoreless first period as both Titans goalie Jack Perkins and the Durango goalie were on point. Durango eventually opened the scoring four minutes into the second period. But when they suffered a succession of penalties, the Titans had a chance to tie it up but couldn’t find the net in the powerplay or at full strength.
“Their defense just kept collapsing on us and shut us down,” says Watson.
The Titans did kill a penalty as well as a 5v3 situation to close the second period and open the third period and looked to build off the penalty kills in the third period, arguably the Titans best period all season long.
“We did a pretty good job on the kills, but we were still getting outworked,” says Watson.
Durango then added to their lead midway through the third period but the Titans kept fighting having pulled off a couple of late game heroics this season despite all of their injuries. They finally cracked the seal on Durango’s net with two minutes left to play when Marchitelli scored off an assist from Grady Buckhanan instilling hope for another cardiac kid result. But time eventually ran out on the Titans and they fell 2-1.
“We figured out how to bury the puck but just too late,” says Watson. “We were just flat outworked.”
Crested Butte finishes the season with games against Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs before they head into the post season and all three teams have a shot at the Mountain Conference title.
“That will be a big test, hopefully we can bear down,” says Watson.
But the Titans’ coaching staff have additional concerns as players are still trying to get healthy. The question remains, play for the conference title or hold off on playing some players and hope to get back to full strength by the post season.
“We definitely don’t want to push anything,” says Watson. “We want the conference title, but it’s also about getting the kids ready for the post season. They all should be 100-percent by the post season and when we have a full, healthy team and run our systems, we will see what happens.”