HomeSports Brick Oven repeats as town league hockey champions
Brick Oven repeats as town league hockey champions
Written by Than Acuff
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Wheel, Snipe, Party…and gin snifters?
Let it be known, no matter how you feel about the Brick Oven hockey team, they deserve the title.
They got heart, Matt Gutter and Dan Loftus. They got pure talent, Deuce Wynes. They got more talent, Dodson Harper, John Chandler, Ben and Kent Preston. They got veteran savvy, Michael Blunck. They got a guy who beat cancer, Steve Lawlor. They got a guy who skied all of Colorado’s 14’ers, Frank Konsella. They got a Crested Butte town councilman, John Wirsing. They got a Chainless downhill champion, Mark Cram. They got a Crested Butte Mountain Resort ski instructor, Todd Carroll. They even got a guy who tried out for the Cleveland Browns, Mike Marchitelli. Sure, there were some quality teams out there to give them a run for their money. Most notably, Dragon Sheet Metal in the regular season and the Eldo in the post-season. And let’s not forget about Mikey’s Pizza, which tied the Brick Oven in the opening round of the post season. (Side note: Mikey Larsen scored his team’s final goal of the season for the second year in a row.) But when it comes down to crunch time, the Brick Oven hockey team always rises to the top. Tuesday night, they did it again, taking down the red hot Eldo 3-1 in the championship game to repeat as town league champions. The Brick Oven Sports System LLC (fueled by Avery Brewing Company) has softball titles, Gunnison hockey league titles, Chainless Downhill titles, bike racing titles and now a second Crested Butte town league hockey title in the franchise’s history. They don’t have a trophy case, they’ve got a trophy closet. They have almost as many titles as they do beers on tap. The Eldo was just as deserving of a title Tuesday night, given what they’d been through. Losing their top skater three weeks ago, the rest of the team rallied to carry the torch and take charge in the post-season. They fired off two decisive wins to earn a spot in the finals and were looking to shock the world, or at least the world of people who pay attention to town league hockey. But the finals are an entirely different level. For one thing, parks and rec called upon crack officiating crew Mike Preston and Jack Turner Gibbons to run the show. Furthermore, the rink crew laid down “the best ice ever,” according to Turner Gibbons. And finally, attendance, while late, was significant, with fans plastered to the glass along the boards and two deep in the mezzanine level on the west end. But, the true indication of the enormity of the affair came prior to the game as a couple of Eldo players prepared to take the ice. “Red Bull?” asked one. “Yep, getting fired up,” responded the other. “Save the beer for after.” The two teams bring decisively different styles of play to the ice. The Brick Army—I mean, Oven—plays fundamental sound hockey based on position play and tape-to-tape passing. The Eldo brings something quite different. Big hustle, huge heart and no holds barred. Put it this way. The Brick has Wynes, the Eldo has Wynne. Both teams came out firing, trading off counterattacks, coming up empty until Eldo player Howard Tuthill skated through two Brick Oven players in neutral ice to blaze a path to net and score. The Brick Oven wasted little time in responding, taking advantage of a power play situation. As the Eldo collapsed to cover space instead of picking up men, Ben Preston found an open seam to goal. Eldo netminder Brad Bodell shut off all conceivable angles so Preston played the puck off the pipe to himself, intentionally I’m sure, to score on his own rebound and tie the game 1-1. Torrey Carroll spearheaded a paradigm shift among his Eldo players to take back the flow of the game with unbridled hustle but the Brick Oven fought off the surge to keep the game tied as they entered the second period. Wynes, being the consummate town league player that he is, continued to look off scoring chances in an effort to set up his teammates for goals. They never did find the back of the net in the second period as the Eldo’s scrappy play kept them in the game and the Oven out of sync, leaving the title to be determined in the third period. Blunck had a chance to break the tie five minutes into the third period, skating all alone to net but Bodell denied him and the rebound. Rather than fold in disappointment, Blunck made a point of winning the ensuing face-off and dropped the puck back to Preston at the point. Preston fired, Bodell made the save but Gutter followed to push the loose puck past Bodell for a 2-1 Brick Oven lead. Thirty seconds later, the Brick struck again when Harper won a draw in the Eldo zone and dropped the puck back to Wynes. Wynes drove a low wrister through traffic that kicked off an Eldo skate and past Bodell for a 3-1 lead with four minutes left. Despite a timeout and pulling their goalie, the Eldo struggled to mount any semblance of a comeback and the Brick Oven held on for the 3-1 win and their second title in a row.