Late flurry lifts Outfitters in A League opener
BRECKENRIDGE – Summit County’s A League hockey season kicked off on a snowy Tuesday evening with a matchup of two of last season’s playoff teams, Honka Homes and Breckenridge Outfitters.Although Honka took a 3-1 lead into the third period, Outfitters exploded for six third-period goals to win 7-3 on opening night.”It was the first game of the season, so we were all pretty rusty,” said Outfitters captain Mike Ahlman. “But we came around in the end.”Outfitters’ victory was fueled by hat tricks from a pair of Mikes: Mike Woodward tallied the team’s first goal in the second period and added two more in the final stanza, and Ahlman scored all three of his in the third period for the rare natural hat trick.
Nonetheless, it was another Mike, Honka’s Mike “Canada” Judson, who opened the scoring with a hard slapper for a 1-0 first-period lead. Radek Kravnikovic then helped double it by setting up Pekka Laine for a spectacular goal five minutes into the second.After crossing the blue line, Kravnikovic made an inside-out move to beat his man along the boards, then curled behind the net with speed. Instead of carrying the puck around, though, he made a behind-the-back pass to Laine who slammed it home. All eyes were still on Kravnikovic streaking behind the goal line, only to see him pump a fist in celebration of the 2-0 Honka advantage.Kravnikovic wasn’t the only player who would set the ice on fire. The Outfitters peppered Honka goalie Rob Berger early in the second period, but he answered the barrage with a series of rejections. In a span of about five seconds, Berger stopped four consecutive shots with sizzling reflexes. “Our goalie kept us in it for two periods, but we all ran out of gas in the end,” said Honka’s Brian Waldes.
Moments after Berger lunged to stop a one-timer off a nice back-door passing play, Breckenridge Outfitters got on the board to halve the Honka lead. Outfitters defenseman Woodward faked a shot from the point, danced around the frozen Honka forward and beat Berger with a low wrister to the far side with 2:17 left in the middle period.Honka promptly regained its two-goal cushion about a minute later when Laine wound up and fired a bullet from the top of the slot past Kreider, sending his team into the third period with a 3-1 lead. Breckenridge Outfitters came out firing early in the third, erupting for three goals in a span of 1:35 to send Honka reeling.Thos Evans began the comeback as he sped into Honka’s zone and made a perfect thread-the-needle pass to Outfitters captain Ahlman, who one-timed a low shot to cut the score to 3-2. Mere seconds later, the pair hooked up again with Evans making a pass to Ahlman on the doorstep, who scored to tie the game at 3.
On the very next shift, Woodward scored his second goal of the game with another fine individual effort, juking two Honka defenders before giving the Outfitters their first lead. Three minutes later, Ahlman completed his natural hat trick with his third goal of the period by firing a shot off the far post for a 5-3 Outfitters lead. Woodward completed his hat trick and made it 6-3 by wriggling in from the point and stretching twine with a high slap shot to demoralize Honka further. Chuck Oese capped the scoring with another slapper through a mess of fallen players in front of Berger.Honka’s Judson said that “poor offseason conditioning” led to his team’s late collapse. “I didn’t see anyone at the gym all summer,” he joked.By contrast, Outfitters captain Ahlman was seen doing sprints after the game.Although there was no A League over the summer, both Honka and the Outfitters lost in the semifinals of the winter season playoffs and figure to be contenders again this fall.
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