Copper gets first win in hockey ‘A’ league
BRECKENRIDGE – Neither team was deep. And neither team had a win. Still, 17 male hockey players took to the ice at the Stephen C. West Arena Tuesday night for a Week 3 “A” League match-up between Copper Mountain/Coors and Anton’s Animals.
The trouble is, 17 guys is hardly enough for two full hockey teams.
Copper’s bench featured four extra skaters, and the Animals’ lone substitute couldn’t make up the difference as Copper cruised to an 8-3 victory.
“We have had a pretty regular core group (of players) for most of the team’s three seasons,” said the Animals’ Kraig Hamady.
They were nowhere to be found on this night.
“Some guys live in Vail, some in Denver,” added goalie Rob Berger. Like most rec league teams, they only see each other during games.
The Copper Mountain squad faced similar problems, but was better off late in the game with the few extra legs.
“We played a short bench, too,” Copper stalwart Gary Rodgers said . “But we passed really well and came out of our own (zone) well.”
Copper Mountain (1-1-1) had taken both Eric’s and Fatty’s to overtime in their previous two outings, and are delighted to come away with their first win. Anton’s Animals (0-3-1) still seek that elusive first victory.
The Animals scored first through a shot by Matt Anton at the 7:35 mark. Anton received a nifty pass at the point Larry Pacheco and beat Scott Kreider for the opener.
Brent Pearson fired in the equalizer just two minutes later off an assist by Dave Hill. Pearson’s blast seemed to have eluded Berger thanks to a screen in the crease.
Copper took their first lead of the night with only a minute to play in the first period, when Peter Cowley tapped in a rebound from a shot by Rob Spence.
The second period featured both sides displaying their best skills of the game. They battled for loose pucks, challenged each other in the neutral zone and played tight defense. The Animals organized themselves enough to harass Kreider in net, and forced him to make twice as many saves in the second 15 minutes.
Pacheco played solid defense all game, but also showed his ability to provide an offensive spark. In the third minute, he picked up a loose puck at center ice, skated past a Copper defender, and beat Kreider high to even the scoring at 2.
However, the energy of the Animals players was visibly gone at the end of the period and Copper took advantage. Pearson scored the second and third goals of his hat trick, while Hill added another in the last minute of the period to widen the lead to 5-3.
Anton’s Animals simply had nothing left to give and merely skated around the ice looking like tired rags. The game took on the feel of a mismatched sparring contest with Copper forwards sending in shot after shot for the beleaguered Berger to save again and again.
Cowley, Jason Gregg, and Hillis all earned a goal each while the Animals could only muster the occasional counter.
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