Expansion Breckenridge Bolts hockey team drops 2 to Thunderbirds, remains winless at home
Expansion Bolts drop 2 to Thunderbirds, remain winless at home
A potential first home victory for the Breckenridge Bolts (3-5-2) will have to wait until Dec. 15 at the earliest after the expansion team lost twice this past weekend at home to the Colorado Thunderbirds of Littleton.
The Thunderbirds defeated the Bolts at Stephen C. West Ice Arena 5-to-3 on Friday and 6-to-3 on Saturday, dragging Breckenridge’s home record on the year down to 0-3-1 while they stand at 3-2-1 on the road.
The Bolts are off this weekend; their next game action will be on Friday, Nov. 17, and Saturday, Nov. 18, versus the Steamboat Wranglers away from home at the Howelsen Ice Arena.
That pair of games will commence seven consecutive road games for the Bolts before they return home to take on the Colorado Rampage of Monument in a three-game homestand from Dec. 15 through Dec. 17. Those three games will also be the final regular season contests for the Bolts, who as of this week reside in fourth place in the five-team Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League.
Despite the two losses to the Thunderbirds, Breckenridge remains ahead of them though the Bolts have played one more game than the T-Birds. The Pikes Peak Miners and the Steamboat Wranglers are tied for first place atop the standings with 14 points each.
This past weekend, Breckenridge outshot and outhit the Thunderbirds in the first and third periods of Friday and Saturday games, but once again poor play in the second period each night did them in.
Halfway through the second period on Friday, an errant Bolts pass was picked off during a Breckenridge powerplay resulting in a Thunderbirds shorthanded goal to increase their lead to 2–1. Then with 23 seconds left in the period, the T-Birds scored again to make it 3–1.
Early in the third period, Tanner Caldarola pulled the Bolts within one on a score from the slot. But the Thunderbirds answered right back as a tipped puck by a Bolts player squeaked through Graisen Eatchel’s 5-hole to increase the Thunderbird lead to 4–2. It was one they’d never relinquish.
On Saturday, the Thunderbirds came out steady and ready for Breckenridge’s physical play in the first period. In that opening period, Breckenridge out-chanced the T-birds in possession time but gave up too many odd-man rushes and scoring chances as the period continued.
Bolts goalie Doug Wakelyn was up to the task as he stopped several shots early, but halfway through the first period a bad turnover resulted in a perfect shot opportunity for Jarod Ackerman of the Thunderbirds, who scored over Wakelyn’s shoulder.
Then late in the first period, the Bolts suffered a scare as Wakelyn took a stick to the head during a scrum in front of net. He was removed from play due to the hit but returned to start the second period. In his absence, Bolts goalie Declan Rooney turned away all eight shots he faced.
Just 25 seconds into the second period, the T-Birds scored on Wakelyn. Then a minute later another goal stretched the lead to 3-to-0. The Thunderbirds would eventually stretch their lead further to 5–1 later in the period, as Luke Marsh scored the lone Bolts goal, one set up by Kody Goodwin and Zach Booth.
Marsh scored his second goal of the game early in the third period, one of the lone bright spots for the Bolts on Saturday as they’d go on to lose 6–3.
Over the weekend, the goaltenders Rooney and Wakelyn combined to stop 64 of 70 shots on Saturday while Eatchel stopped 40 of 44 on Friday. Marsh remains Breckenridge’s scoring leader on the year with seven goals and four assists while Rooney leads the team in goals-against average (2.84) and save percentage (.939).
—Summit Daily staff report
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