Watch: Crested Butte hockey throttles Summit after early Tiger lead
Titans’ Lambert again scores hat trick, this time in 9-3 win
A dream start turned into a nightmare finish for the Summit High School hockey team (1-3) Friday night in a 9-3 loss to Crested Butte (4-0).
Tigers head coach JR Engelbert knew the Tigers would need a fast and forceful start after having lost to the undefeated Titans 13 days prior by the score of 7-2 on the same home Tiger ice at Stephen C. West Ice Arena. So the coach opted for the Tigers’ second line, including Ryley Cibula and Copper Pederson, to start the game. The decision proved fruitful just 71 seconds into the game, as Cibula scored an even-strength goal assisted by Blaze Ebbinghaus.
“They’ve been going well. We’ve been starting games slow in the first period, so we changed it up with the line, which brought a different energy to get going and it worked out,” Engelbert said.
Just over three minutes later, at the 4:21 mark of the first period, Pederson found an even-strength goal of his own, assisted by Cibula to take an early 2-0 lead over a Crested Butte team that has been the menace of mountain hockey to this point in the season.
Though the Titans added an even-strength goal of their own at the 9:27 mark of the first period from Rowan Piccaro, the Tigers made some adjustments to keep Crested Butte guessing in a first period that was the Tigers’ best of the season.
“We came out ready to play,” Engelbert said. “Obviously getting a goal in the first shift of a game is going to get that energy and momentum swinging your way right away. We pressured them well. We spread out in the zones more like we worked on in practice, which gave us the ability to open up the ice and get some scoring chances right away.”
Engelbert said the Tigers also worked on a new neutral-zone trap system that the team adjusted to in the middle of the first period, which featured a switch from heavy pressure to lighter pressure that he felt threw Crested Butte back on their heels.
“We did that because they took some momentum in the middle of the first period,” Engelbert said. “So we threw that new system at them, and it kind of slowed it back down to where we regained composure and finished that first period really strong.”
At the end of the first period, the Tigers outshot the Titans 6-5 and freshman starting goaltender Finn Schroder made the lion’s share of his 10 saves in net.
But fired up by the determined Jack Lambert — who scored three goals the last time these two teams met — Crested Butte responded in the second period with a vengeance. Lambert scored two of the Titan’s five goals in a period that took the game from a 2-1 Tigers lead to a 6-2 Titans advantage.
Andi Bierbaum replaced Schroder in net in the second period, with the score at 5-2, and made 19 saves on 23 shots on net.
At the 5:33 mark of the third period, Tigers defenseman Zach Carleton scored an even-strength goal to pull Summit within 6-3, but two Brendan Hartigan goals followed by a Lambert power-play goal with just 20 seconds remaining in a chippy, penalty-riddled third period gave Crested Butte a resounding 9-3 win. Lambert’s final goal gave him his second hat trick in as many weeks in Breckenridge.
“He’s got speed and he reads the ice really well,” Engelbert said, speaking of Lambert. “He’s very decisive, and when he gets that opportunity to get that shot he’s clearly not missing very often right now.”
Summit is next scheduled to play 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17 at home at Stephen C. West Ice Arena versus Battle Mountain, followed by another home game at 6 p.m. Friday versus Aspen. To come out with wins in either of those games versus the Huskies (3-0-1) – who earlier this season defeated Summit 6-2 — or the Skiers (0-3), Engelbert said the Tigers will need to improve their ability to play with a lead.
“It’s not something we’ve done a ton of,” Engelbert said. “Playing from behind creates a little more urgency in your mental game. And when you come out to a quick two-goal lead, I think we just kind of — we kind of let that sink a little too hard for us and didn’t quite maintain that mental attitude needed where we had that success.”
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