Wolfpack battles Front Range opponents
Written by Than Acuff
Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Rattle Arvada for 3-2 win
Hard telling not knowing. Such was the case this weekend as the Crested Butte Wolfpack hosted Front Range league opponents Arvada and Hyland at Big Mine Ice Arena Saturday and Sunday, February 9-10.
It’s a new league this year for the Wolfpack and while they have some experience against a handful of their opponents, Arvada and Hyland were new to the Wolfpack.
All they knew was that both teams sit above them in the league standings and Arvada has the top three scorers in the league.
“We knew we were in for a good game,” says Wolfpack captain Dylan Curtiss.
The Wolfpack found out something else about Arvada minutes prior to their game Saturday morning—they’re huge. The Wolfpack has some size with Troy Pike, Liam Mortell, Cristo Church and Emerson Wohlers, but Arvada has that and then some.
And while the Wolfpack appeared intimidated in the opening minutes of the game, their efforts in neutral ice breaking up Arvada’s passing lanes and quick transition attacks quickly neutralized Arvada’s size advantage.
The defense paced the Wolfpack early with Pike, Mortell, Wohlers and Danny Stoneberg all spot on in positioning and pushing the puck up ice into the attacking third.
Their efforts helped sway the momentum to the Wolfpack as Crested Butte took control of the pace and possession.
When the Wolfpack did lose the puck, they were quick to recover, oftentimes doubling up on their opponent to win the puck back, always covering the slot and finding lanes up ice with tape-to-tape passing.
The Wolfpack broke the scoreless battle with two minutes left in the first period when Sam Reaman picked off a clearing pass at the blue line and skated to net to stuff it home for a 1-0 lead.
While the Wolfpack would continue to dominate play in the second period, Arvada managed to take advantage of two broken plays to take a 2-1 lead.
Rather than crumble under the disappointment, the Wolfpack maintained their pace. Montana Wiggins remained solid in net with several big saves and in the final minute of the second period, Dylan Curtiss carried the puck coast-to-coast to slip his shot inside the far post and tie the game 2-2.
The Wolfpack took the lead back when Pike barreled in off the blue line through three Arvada players to score three minutes into the third period.
Both teams appeared gassed for the final eight minutes of the game but the Wolfpack proved stronger with big hustle on defense diving to block shots and back-checking to disrupt the Arvada offense and seal the 3-2 win. Wiggins anchored the Wolfpack effort down the stretch with another flurry of great saves.
“I guess we just wanted it more,” says Curtiss. “That was definitely the strongest game we’ve had. We played great as a team and finished the chances we had.”
The two teams met again later that day and Arvada looked determined to prove the Wolfpack win was a fluke, opening up a 4-0 lead on the noticeably flat Crested Butte team.
“We had no idea what was going on,” admits Curtiss.
But the Pack came back.
Ian Dethloff netted two goals in the final three minutes of the first period to cut into Arvada’s lead.
“Those were huge,” says Curtiss. “Ian putting in a few of those goals picked up the whole team.”
Arvada responded five minutes into the second period to go up 5-2 but the Wolfpack came firing back, scoring three goals. Reaman scored twice off assists from Curtiss and Danny D’Aquila and Dethloff completed the hat trick to tie the game 5-5 heading into the third period.
Pike put the Wolfpack on top 6-5 five minutes into the third period when his shot trickled through, but it was obvious the game was still up for grabs and Arvada seized on it.
Arvada tied the game 30 seconds later and scored two more over the course of the third period to skate away with the 8-6 win.
The Wolfpack closed the weekend Sunday morning against a high-flying and physical squad from Hyland.
Hyland’s physical play set the tone early in the first period and Hyland capitalized, scoring on a power play to go up 1-0.
“They were way more physical and that threw us off our game,” says Curtiss. “They were shutting off our passes and finishing their checks.”
The Wolfpack picked their game up a notch through the second and third periods but couldn’t finish in the offensive zone as Hyland scored one more in the second period and held off a 5 v. 3 in the third period to seal their 2-0 win.
Wiggins had another great game in net, saving 30 of 32 shots.
“He was huge against Hyland,” says Curtiss. “We just couldn’t capitalize on our chances.”
The Wolfpack are in fifth place and have three more league games before heading into the post season and Curtiss feels the team is coming into its own at just the right time.
“The chemistry right now is outstanding,” says Curtiss. “We’re in a great spot and if we win these games we can move up in the standings and they will help us in the playoffs.”
The Wolfpack will host the Gunnison Blades on Wednesday, February 20 at 6:45 p.m. and then Regis on Saturday, February 23 at 11:30 a.m. and Sunday, February 24 at 1:30 p.m.