Breckenridge Vipers lose to Boulder in fast-paced Friday night game |

Breckenridge Vipers lose to Boulder in fast-paced Friday night game

JR Engelbert makes a save during the Breckenridge Vipers' loss Friday night to Boulder at Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breckenridge.
Elaine Collins / Special to The Daily

BRECKENRIDGE – In front of a rabid packed house at Stephen C. West Ice Arena Friday night, the Breckenridge Vipers semi-pro hockey team (2-3) didn’t have enough to defeat the Boulder Bison, losing 9-6.

The Tigers ended an action-packed first period with a 2-0 lead despite being outshot on goal 26-10 in the first period. Vipers head coach Rich Batenburg said most of the Bison shots weren’t very good as the Vipers defense stayed in system, allowing goaltender JR Engelbert to see what was coming at him.

Breckenridge got on the board first with 17:15 left in the first period via a goal from forward Shamus O’Neil assisted by forward Rick Batenburg and  defenseman Tommy Mines. The Vipers made it 2-0 at the 9:28 in the first period with a goal from forward Mike Sullivan assisted by Batenburg.

Breckenridge’s system came undone in the second period, allowing the Bison attack to advance through the middle of the ice. Coach Batenburg felt the Bison offense shot a higher percentage of good shot opportunities in the second half, resulting in tough views for Engelbert and six Bison goals in the second period.

“The difference is where they were shooting from,” Coach Batenburg said. “In the first period we were playing the system and keeping everybody to the outside. Up high and outside JR can see em. We let ’em inside, and once they get inside, too much traffic, too much screen. And this is a good team, a very good team. They’ve got some snipers.”

The Vipers received second period goals from defenseman Dan Autenrieth and Rick Batenburg to enter the third period down 6-4.

The Vipers entered the third period with a tough task, down several players to injuries. The presence of defenseman Derek Scanlon was particularly missed on Friday night.

The Vipers showed grit in the third period, grinding through back-to-back penalties, including a 5-on-3 penalty kill, to give themselves a chance trailing 7-5 with about five minutes left in the game. But Coach Batenburg said with the injuries and the danger of the 5-on-3 penalty kill situation, Breckenridge had to expend important top line players over those minutes, gassing guys for the homestretch.

“They are very resilient,” Coach Batenburg said. “We had, we took a bad penalty, the guys had their say, but they are coming together. It’s still early.”

Boulder tightened its grip on the game with an eighth goal and three-goal advantage at the 4:48 mark. The Vipers received late goals from O’Neil and forward Garret Bailey before an empty-net Bison goal made the final scoreline 9-6.

“If we play the system, the system was built and selected for the personnel that we have,” Coach Batenburg said. “Tonight, we were 50-60% of the time in system, and I’d say I want 85%. We can let down and be broken from a system perspective five minutes a period. And it depends too on what’s breaking down. Our systems are meant to go together from the standpoint of our forecheck and breakout. I’d rather see us breakdown on the forecheck than the breakout. What happened tonight, particularly in the second, we were not playing the way we should, not keeping them to the outside, not getting pucks out. We were going up the middle. And if you play a team this skilled, they will beat you through the lanes each time because they all have accelerations and hands.”

Breckenridge will return to game action for a home match on Friday, Dec. 20 versus the Pikes Peak Vigilantes at 7:45 p.m.. For more information, visit

Vipers semipro hockey

All home games at Stephen C. West Ice Arena in Breckenridge
Friday: vs. Utah Blizzard, 7:45 p.m.
Saturday: vs. Utah Blizzard, 8 p.m.
Nov. 22: at Texas Titans, 7:45 p.m.
Nov. 23: at Texas Titans, 6:15 p.m.
Dec. 6: vs. Boulder Bison, 7:45 p.m.
Dec. 7: vs. Boulder Bison, 8 p.m.
Dec. 20: vs. Pikes Peak Vigilantes, 7:45 p.m.
Dec. 27: vs. Vail Yeti, 7:45 p.m.
Dec. 28: vs. Vail Yeti, 8 p.m.
Jan. 7: vs. New York City Fire Department, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 10: at Sun Valley Suns, 7:15 p.m.
Jan 11: at Sun Valley Suns, 7:15 p.m.
Jan. 17: at Vail Yeti, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 18: at Vail Yeti, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 31: vs. Pikes Peak Vigilantes, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 14: vs. New York City Police Department, 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 15: vs. New York City Police Department, 8 p.m.
Feb. 21: at Park City Pioneers, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 22: at Park City Pioneers, 7:30 p.m.
March 6: vs. Park City Pioneers, 7:45 p.m.
March 7: vs. Park City Pioneers, 8 p.m.
March 13: vs. Pikes Peak Vigilantes, 7:45 p.m.
March 20: vs. Denver Leafs, 7:45 p.m.
March 21: vs. Denver Leafs, 8 p.m.

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