Liberty’s power plays kill Tigers
BRECKENRIDGE – Roughly five minutes into the second period of the Tigers’ hockey game Saturday afternoon, junior defenseman Chris Kuhn managed to do something no other team has done against Liberty this season – he scored a goal.
Kuhn’s goal came when he caught a rebound and punched it underneath Liberty’s starting goaltender Ferdinando Salazar.
The even-strength goal kept the Tigers in the game, bringing the score up to 3-1. It elicited a monstrous response from the crowded audience, as well.
The powerful 5A team came into the Stephen C. West Ice Arena with 15 goals and two shutouts to its credit. Led by their power-forward Andrew Turner, they wasted no time jumping to a 2-0 lead in the first period.
To Summit’s credit, the Tigers’ skating and puck-handling skills have improved dramatically since their scrimmage against Steamboat Springs on Nov. 29.
Junior Cam Carlson led several odd-man rushes down the ice during the first two periods but couldn’t get the puck past Salazar, who posted both of Liberty’s shutouts of the young season.
At one point, Carlson had a beautiful scoring chance when he beat a Liberty defender 1-on-1 in front of the net, but he couldn’t finish the play.
Toward the end of the second period, however, the Tigers’ discipline began to break down, an issue that has dogged them since the beginning of the season.
Those breakdowns led to three consecutive power play goals by Liberty. In the middle of it all, Carlson was called for a flagrant boarding foul and received a 5-minute major after leveling the Liberty captain.
The final score was 9-1, but head coach Jake Quigley chalks it up as a learning experience.
“For the individual efforts, we were a better team than we were last week against Pueblo,” he said after the game. “The penalties killed us, though.”
Thirteen penalties for 37 penalty minutes were handed out against the Tigers during the game, something which Quigley believes was caused by a combination of mental breakdowns by his players and strict officiating.
While he believes the play-calling was fair, he believes there is less room for error at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena than at some venues on the Front Range.
“It was a very tightly (officiated) game tonight and that’s something our kids have to learn about being in our barn,” he said. “They have to be disciplined and not take those penalties.”
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