Wolfpack hockey falls in first round of state tournament to Hyland Hills, Aspen
Written by Than Acuff
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
“We had to bring our A game”
For their first time jumping into the bigger pond of Colorado Midget Major A hockey, the Crested Butte Wolfpack did pretty well. And they were destined to do even better before running into a buzz saw in the opening round of the Midget Major A state tournament.
After years of competing in the Rocky Mountain Youth Hockey League, the Wolfpack made the move into the Continental Divide Colorado Competitive league this year. The league has a couple old familiar Wolfpack foes in Telluride/Durango and Gunnison but also includes numerous Front Range programs complete with year round ice. With that in mind, Wolfpack coach John Mortell didn’t know what to expect, but he did know what he wanted.
Before the season started, Mortell wanted two things from his team. First, he wanted them to prove that they belonged in the league. Second, he wanted to make the playoffs.
The Wolfpack did both as they posted a regular season record of 10-9, including a couple wins over Front Range teams, to finish in sixth place and make it to the state tournament.
They did all that with just two seniors and a string of injuries that would have sidetracked any program over the course of a season.
As a result of their seeding they faced Hyland Hills in the opening round of the playoffs. Hyland Hills beat the Wolfpack 2-0 in the regular season and are one of the few teams in the league that can match Crested Butte’s physical presence on the ice.
But with almost the entire team healthy, and their systems in place, the Wolfpack knew what had to be done.
“We knew how they played and we knew they were physical,” says senior captain Dylan Curtiss. “We had to bring our A game. We had to put the first bodies down and finish all the chances we got.”
But, before the Wolfpack could even get started, Hyland Hills struck scoring two minutes into the game putting an initial damper on the Wolfpack’s hopes.
“It definitely crushed our team,” says Curtiss.
Crested Butte kept plugging away though and tied it up four minutes later when Isaac Evans scored off an assist from Sam Reaman on a power play.
The goal picked the Wolfpack back up and they played even hockey the remainder of the period gaining more confidence heading into the second period.
“Isaac’s goal picked up the whole team and I felt like the first period was a pretty good period for us,” says Curtiss.
Hyland did it again in the second period scoring two minutes into the period and then added two more to build a 4-1 lead. While the three-goal outburst was crushing the Wolfpack continued to battle and capitalized on another powerplay when senior captain Troy Pike scored off another assist from Reaman.
Once again, the goal sparked the Wolfpack but once again, Hyland Hills crushed them early in the third period scoring in the fist 22 seconds. The Wolfpack scored a third powerplay goal when Ian Dethloff finished on an assist from Pike but Hyland closed the game scoring in the final minute for the 6-3 win.
The loss dashed the Wolfpack’s state run hopes and left them with the bitter task of playing in a consolation game the next day against Aspen.
Still shattered from the loss the day before, the Wolfpack struggled against Aspen, a team they easily handled in the regular season, losing 4-3.
Curtiss closed out his Wolfpack career scoring two goals and assisting Reaman on a third Wolfpack goal in the 4-3 loss to Aspen.
“It was definitely a bummer,” says Curtiss. “We wanted to keep playing because it was such a great team to play with.”