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Ice hockey’s salute to Sawyer Dow was moving

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

The scores really didn’t matter. But for the record, Mullen lost twice this weekend in ice hockey to powerful Pueblo County by 8-5 and 9-1, back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday.

What did matter, though, was the Mustangs and their community coming together to honor and remember a fallen classmate, Sawyer Dow, a senior who thrived on adrenaline through rock climbing and died on Jan. 12.

In front of probably the biggest crowd to attend one of their ice hockey games, the Mustangs went back-and-forth with the Hornets, who are now 11-1 overall and 10-0 in the Highlands Conference, and even tied it at 5 in the closing minutes on Friday at a rowdy Edge Ice Arena. However, the Hornets retook the lead with less than 3 minutes to play and added a couple of empty-netters to finish it.

Despite being outshot 60-35, the Mustangs rode big game by the Witwers, John and Robert, Matt Byerly and goalie Connor Mahon. Still, it wasn’t enough and on Saturday, the Hornets won easily in Pueblo by 9-1.

Mullen’s record dropped to 3-10, 2-8, and there were a lot of exhausted Mustangs by Saturday evening, but their ability to honor one of their own, accept support from a community that’s willing to give it and step up their game to feed off their following was practically immeasurable. Plus, even in a testy, physical game, Pueblo County twice joined the Mustangs in prayer, hugs and handshakes in a high-end display of sportsmanship.

Kids got to be kids, but also acted mature beyond their years. It was as accomplished as it was moving.

“I loved the effort,” Mullen head coach Devon Brady said. “We’re starting to play very good hockey … and there were a lot of really good things going for us. I’m extremely proud of my players.”

Zach Banko, a Mullen sophomore defenseman, said “it was a tough battle, very aggressive and we hung in there. Yeah, we love the support from fans and parents. It helped us play for Sawyer. We just dug deep and thought about what Sawyer would do … and we fought for him.”

The large group at the arena joined in a moment of silence, some prayer, pizza and traded stories. And the freshman-based Mustangs against the senior-dominated Hornets provided more than enough entertainment.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter if you were an adult or student, the theme remained the same.

“I came just to remember Sawyer,” Mustangs freshman Thomas Hicks said. “I hadn’t seen a game yet and thought this one would be the best ... and I thought it was just great sportsmanship.”

Another Mullen freshman, Sophie Hollingsworth, who said she has a lot of friends on the Mullen team, enjoyed the well-meaning gestures by the Hornets as “I thought that was really cool and really nice of them to share with us in the community. It was really good.”

Said Brady: “Our guys were well aware of what was happening and they gave the effort.”


Mustangs erupt, spank Woodland Park 9-0

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

In its best game and easily its most-decisive victory of the season, Mullen blitzed host Woodland Park 9-0 on Tuesday.

Competing at Honnen Ice Rink on the campus of Colorado College, the Mustangs upped their overall mark to 3-8, 2-6 in the Highlands Conference. It also was a far cry from the first meeting between the two teams, on Jan. 8, when the Mustangs won 4-1 and coach Devon Brady was highly critical of his team for playing selfishly as well as taking several unnecessary penalties.

Senior Matt Byerly led Mullen with four goals. Utah Bryant, Hunter Kear, Amos Mills, Ashton Smaldone and John Witwer also found the back of the net as a previously goal-challenged team suddenly turned into a scoring machine. Robert Witwer had four assists. Bryant added three and Smaldone two. Kear, Ben McManus and John Witwer also contributed assists as did freshman goalie Hunter Mahon, who also stopped 31 shots for his first shutout.

Mullen was able to squeeze off 37 shots, 17 in the first period in taking a 3-0 lead. It was 7-0 after two periods.

Next for Mullen is a back-to-back in the Highlands against the Pueblo County Hornets, Friday, 8:30 p.m., at home at the Edge, then Saturday, 2:30 p.m., at Pueblo Plaza Ice Arena.

Woodland Park, which was coming off its first victory, 5-2 over Palmer’s Terrors, is 1-11, 1-10.

Valor rocks Mustangs again by 10-0

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

For the second time in nine days, Mullen lost to Valor Christian 10-0.

On Saturday, the visiting Mustangs went down to the Eagles at the Ice Ranch. And on Jan. 3, they lost at home to Valor at the Edge by the same score.

Both setbacks were in the Highlands Conference. Mullen dropped to 2-8 overall, 1-6 in conference. Valor improved to 9-1, 9-0.

The Mustangs, who have scored a conference-low 10 goals and scored just twice in its past five outings, were hit for 58 shots and two of the goals were short-handed.

Mullen will have three games this week. On Tuesday, the Mustangs will be on the road against Woodland Park. 5:30 p.m., at Honnen Ice Arena. Next will be two meetings against Pueblo County’s Hornets – on Friday, 8:30 p.m., at the Edge and Saturday, 2:30 p.m., at Sertich Ice Arena.

Mullen’s 2nd victory comes with trying end

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

LITTLETON – Don’t get them wrong, it was a victory, just their second all season and first in conference. They certainly welcomed the two points. They were able to skate more freely and stick-handle as every stride wasn’t impeded by someone bigger, faster and stronger. And their goalie didn’t have to serve as a target on a firing range.

But the Mullen Mustangs’ 4-1 decision of visiting and first-year Woodland Park on Monday at the Edge Ice Arena came with a bit of an asterisk.

Sure, it improved the young team’s overall mark to 2-7 and gave them their first Highlands Conference victory (against five losses).

But afterward they knew they probably should have won even more easily. Definitely needed to stay out of the penalty box down the stretch. Without question needed to play more unselfishly. And not get goaded into losing their composure.

“Yeah,” Mustangs head coach Devon Brady said, “we had to have a bit of a conversation in the locker room about it. We’re learning how to win. And that said, we take the two points, but especially for the last 10 minutes, we took bad penalties, made selfish plays … instead, we had to grind it out.”

True, Mullen, after getting waxed by a combined 19-0 by powers Regis Jesuit and Valor Christian, knew the Panthers (0-10, 0-9) were an entirely different foe. It showed in the first period as Matt Byerly scored 24 seconds into the game and Utah Bryant made it 2-0 at 1:40.

However, the Mustangs were slowed to just one goal in the second period by Byerly. They missed several chances, although Bryant scored his second goal 5:25 into the third period.

And here’s where it started to really go wrong – Mullen was whistled for six of its 10 infractions, was outshot 19-11 and rugged freshman goalie Connor Mahon, who faced 127 shots the past two games before having to stop a measly 10 over the first two periods, suddenly was taxed … again.

“Garbage, selfish penalties, but it’s all a part of the process,” Brady said. “I knew this would be difficult, this is what it feels like.”

Said Byerly, the team captain who was angry with himself on a tripping penalty in the final minutes: “We played all right. It was a chippy game and our emotions got the best of us. It happens.

“We didn’t play as a team. We had a lot of one-on-one stuff.”

Mahon agreed, but added: “We still got the win, got the two points. We’ll get better.”

Robert Witwer had two assists for the Mustangs. John Witwer and Richie Connell also assisted.

Mullen next plays on Saturday against Valor Christian, a conference game at 8:30 p.m. at the Ice Ranch.

Brady reiterated that his team is young and learning, but will be looking for some improvement, including mentally.

“We’re finally healthy which is good,” Brady said. “I feel good, but that last 10 minutes … we just need to grow up. We have to be above (taking the bait from the opposition). It wasn’t 10-0, not 6-1, so we had a lot to protect and the frustrating part was there are a lot of guys we wanted to get into the game.

“The growth is retarded a bit, but we’ll take the two points.”



Woodland Park 0  0  1 -- 1

Mullen              2  1  1 -- 4



1, Mullen, Byerly (unassisted), 0:24. 2, Mullen, Bryant (R. Witwer, Connell), 1:40.


3, Mullen, Byerly (R. Witwer), 10:06.


4, Mullen, Bryant (J. Witwer), 5:25. 5, Woodland Park, Parker (Levy), PP, 7:40.


Woodland Park 4-6-19—29

Mullen 13-14-11—36


Mahon, Mullen, 28


Regis Jesuit dominates Mustangs 9-0

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

ENGLEWOOD – Some lessons to be learned are labeled as hard. At the moment, Mullen’s lessons appear to be as tough as the diamond variety.

A couple of days after getting walloped by Valor Christian, the Mustangs had it happen again against Regis Jesuit, nearly in the exact same fashion. On Friday evening, Mullen was easily handled 9-0 in nonconference by Regis Jesuit at Family Sports Center after getting pinned 10-0 by Valor Christian.

Indeed, the Mustangs knew it was coming for two reasons: 1. Their roster is dominated by freshman; and 2. Regis Jesuit and Valor Christian are two of the top programs in Colorado, loaded with top upperclassmen.

“Any time you play basically the first or second team or two in the top four, you have those expectations,” Mustangs third-year head coach Devon Brady said of being overmatched..

However, he added, “if you’re going to lace up the skates, you have to make sure you’re getting something out of it. And you can get a lot out of this.”

Now 1-7 and loser of six consecutive games, Mullen had the opportunity to deal with all sorts of hockey adversity.

“So our big question,” Brady said, “being young, is ‘Can you take something from this?’ If not, what’s the point of doing it?”

As it was, Regis Jesuit, now 8-0 and a regular state challenger, did whatever it wanted to do. The Raiders outshot Mullen 60-6, led 4-0 after a period and was never seriously challenged. In fact, the Raiders seemed to be in the Mullen zone for at least 40 of the game’s 51 minutes.

“Easily,” Brady said.

Mullen also was outskated and out-stick-handled, but freshman goalie Connor Mehan isn’t complaining. In fact, he hasn’t minded one bit.

“I like it. It’s fun. I get to see a lot of shots and have a chance to get better,” he said. “That was a goal going into this game, just to get better and I faced a lot of shots.”

Said Brady: “He’s a gamer. We know that and we need to realize we can play a game 30 minutes in our zone, but come away successful ... our goal is to be a Regis or Valor. I think we’re headed in the right direction, but we’re not there yet. (The Mustangs) have to deal with it.”

Next for Mullen is a Monday (2:30 p.m.) home game (at the Edge in Littleton) against winless Woodland Park, a first-year program that is to face Rampart Saturday and has been outscored 74-8 (Mullen has been outscored 45-11). It will be a Highlands Conference game.

“You know, it’s a must-win for us, a big game for our program,” Brady said. “It’s a step we need to take. Hopefully, we come out with some confidence and swagger.”

Valor rolls Mustangs 10-0 at the Edge

By Neil H. Devlin

Mullen Sports Information Specialist

It was to be a demanding week for Mullen ice hockey in returning from the holiday break and it began roughly – the Mustangs were outclassed on Wednesday, losing 10-0 to Valor Christian in Highlands Conference play at the Edge-East.

Mullen dropped to 1-6 overall, 0-5 in conference. Valor Christian is 7-1 and remains in command of the Highlands at 7-0.

The Eagles’ dominance started early and often. They piled up 67 shots on goal for the game, 53 over the first two periods. Mullen managed only 14 shots on goal.

Valor led 3-0 after the first period, 7-0 after two. It scored short-handed, even-strength and power-play goals.

Tim DeBord had a hat trick for Valor, all in the second period and it included two short-handed scores.

Valor’s lone loss was to Regis Jesuit, which next hosts the Mustangs on Friday, 5:40 p.m., at Family Sports Center-Hamilton.

Mustangs drop 2 in Gunnison, fall to 1-5

By Neil H. Devlin

Mullen Sports Information Specialist

A two-game road trip last week came with two losses and facing a combined 109 shots.

Mullen fell twice to Crested Butte, 3-1 on Saturday and 5-2 on Friday at the Jorgenson Ice Rink in Gunnison. The Mustangs are 1-5 overall heading into the holiday break, 0-4 in the Highlands Conference. The Titans are 5-0 conference and overall, top the Highlands and were 12-6 in 2016-17, their first season.

In Friday night’s opener, Mullen trailed 2-0 after a period, tied it at 2 after two on even-strength goals by Ashton Smaldone (unassisted) and Robert Witwer (Richie Connell, Amos Mills), then didn’t answer the Titans’ three-goal barrage.

Even with Crested Butte’s 0-for-4 showing on power plays, it outshot the Mustangs 53-21 and had 43 (21-22) after two periods.

As for Saturday afternoon’s cap to the back-to-back, it was chippy (25 penalties, 13 by Mullen), although the Titans were 0-for-8 on the power play, the Mustangs 1-for-10. Mullen again fell behind 2-0, but on Banko’s extra-man score (assisted by Witwer), got within a goal into the final minutes. Crested Butte’s goal at 16:09 of the third sealed it.

Regular starter Connor Mahon handled the first game in goal for Mullen; Dominic Maurais was given a start in Game 2 and faced 56 shots.      

The Mustangs won’t play again until after the holidays and their first two meetings will be high end --  Jan. 3, 2:30 p.m., at home at the Edge-East against Valor Christian and Jan. 5, 5:40 p.m., on the road versus Regis Jesuit at Family Sports Center-Hamilton.

Mullen listless in 6-1 whipping against Castle View

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

LITTLETON – It was, in a word from Mullen head coach Devon Brady, ”awful.” And he didn’t mind stating it or repeating it.

On Monday afternoon, the Mustangs appeared listless in taking a 6-1 home beating at the hands of Castle View at the Edge Ice Arena. A chance to establish themselves in the early season as more than a walk-over as they were a year ago was squandered.

“We were awful. We were awful,” Brady said. “I don’t know how you can’t get up for a (Highlands) Conference game. That’s a big game for us. That was bad. All facets … other than goaltending. (Numbers) 1 through 31 (his skaters) didn’t happen.”

It would be difficult to disagree or argue with him. Mullen, now 1-3 overall and 0-2 in conference, was hit for an unusually high 74 shots, notably 28 in the opening period. But this one went beyond numbers, the coach said – Mullen was consistently beaten to loose packs, didn’t pass well, received them even worse, was at least a stride slow on defense all game while also displaying questionable passing and generated only brief offense.

In addition, the Mustangs, who gave up two gials in each period, twice had 5-minute power plays and failed to score. Their odd-man rushes were regularly thwarted by the SaberCats and a couple of break-away chances weren’t finished.

Mullen got within 4-1 seconds into the third period on an even-strength goal by Ashton Smaldone and assisted by Utah Bryant, but instead of building on it and at least making the SaberCats sweat, additional pressure never occurred and Castle View responded by scoring twice shorthanded.

In addition, Mustangs top player Matt Byerly left in the third period with a misconduct penalty and Castle View had an assistant coach and player ejected in a game that certainly had its chippy moments.

“We didn’t get a bounce, but when you don’t move your feet, you don’t deserve it,” Brady said. “It comes down to effort and attitude, and we lost both of those departments today. We’re a young team and, really, adversity is a part of it and we have to overcome it.”

Mustangs goalie Connor Mahan did all he could to keep the Castle View scoring from reaching double figures, said he doesn’t mind facing a lot of shots and called the SaberCats “pretty good.”

And Brady, like the majority of Mustangs, said he “didn’t see this coming.”

Mullen next will hit the road and head into the Mountains – it will be a two-game set in Gunnison at Jorgensen Arena vs. the new Crested Butte, 6 p.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday.

Brady said the trip should be good for his players and include “time to reflect.”

A thriller on ice – Mustangs win 3-2 in OT

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

LITTLETON – There was so much going on during Mullen’s rousing 3-2 overtime victory over Chatfield in nonleague at a very loud Edge Ice Arena on Friday night that it was almost too difficult to follow.

But the following is an attempt:

Mullen moved to 1-1 early in the season and matched its victory total from a year ago. Chatfield dipped to 2-2. “I’m excited to see where we’re at,” Mustangs head coach Devon Brady said. “I knew this would be a good matchup for us.”

Senior center Matt Byerly scored the game-winner 3 minutes, 5 seconds into the extra session, which is a new aspect of prep play this season (OT is sudden death in 5 minutes). He battled on the faceoff inside his scoring zone, gained control, fired from the right side, then followed up his rebound by connecting high to roof one and set off a welcomed celebration for an inexperienced Mustangs group. “The whole game was fun and probably was the best of my career,” he said.

Both goalies – Mullen’s Connor Mahon and Chatfield’s Kenneth Reisbeck – almost literally lived the famous hockey-ism, standing on their heads. There were a combined 105 shots. Yes, 105. In fact, Mullen had all seven shots in OT and kept pressuring the Chargers after Mahon repeatedly bailed out the Mustangs in front of a strong showing in the stands. “It’s really uplifting and I haven’t seen this many people at the game,” Mahon said.

Mullen received performances in waves and from just about every area. “We got a lot of guys in and our third and fourth lines saw ice, which was nice for us,” Brady said.

Back and forth they went throughout as Chatfield led 1-0 after two periods, then 2-0 with 14:34 to play in regulation. However, Mullen got one back at 5:02 of the third on the power play as freshman Utah Bryant got one past Reisbeck off an assist from sophomore Zach Banko, then tied it with another player advantage about 3 minutes later on a score by sophomore Alex Hertlein from Byerly.

Each team enjoyed odd-man rushes, significant chances out front and end-to-end play. The crowd was into it on both sides – it’s also Chatfield’s home ice – and the defense was real with an assortment of smart plays and checks.

“Our sticks were in lanes and we did a real nice job with bodies,” Brady said. “I’m extremely pleased with the effort ... we had some chances early and didn’t necessarily put the puck in the back of the net, but, again, I’m pleased with the effort.”

Said Byerly: “The crowd was with us right there at the end and we had the role players do what they do. It was really fun.”

And what did Mullen receive for its performance? The game ended close to 11 p.m. and Mustangs players had to report to school in less than seven hours for the bus ride to Colorado Springs for a road game against Rampart at Sertich Arena.

“Yes, a quick turn-around,” Brady said.

It resulted in a 6-2 loss to the Rams. Rampart led 3-0 after a period and 5-0 after two.

Mullen was outshot badly, 48-17, and it was its first Highlands Conference game. Mullen dropped to 1-2 overall. Rampart is 2-1, 1-0.

Mahon played two periods and was hit for five goals on 33 shots. Dominic Maurus gave up the other and made 14 saves.

For scoring, Banko assisted on both – power-play goals by Byerly and John Witwer.

Mullen next will host Castle View on Monday, 2:30 p.m., at the Edge in Highlands play.


Mustangs fall 5-2 in opener to Denver East

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

If growing up is hard to do, then Mullen is staring at a difficult stretch.

Then again, the Mustangs know what’s in front of them.

Armed with 12 freshmen on the roster, they opened their season on Saturday night with a 5-2 setback to Denver East at the Edge Ice Arena. Inexperience and younger players mean it will be a learning period for Mullen, but it’s confident the curve is reasonable.

“It was all right,” Mustangs head coach Devon Brady said. “We’ve got 12 freshmen and it was Game 1, so there will be some growing pains. All things considered, I hate losing, but I think we have a good foundation and it was better than I expected.”

The Mustangs, 1-17 a year ago, were hit for two goals in the first period and fell behind 3-0 before sophomore Alex Hertlein scored with 10:19 to play.

However, the Angels put together two scores within a minute and the Mustangs’ only answer was a later goal by Rob Witwer.

Still, it’s enough to keep Brady’s interest on the rise.

“We have to stay out of the penalty box and clean up our defensive zone, but we have 12 freshmen and it will happen,” the coach said. “We were a little slow to start, a little deer in the headlights, but, again, half of our roster was playing in its first high-school game.”

Sophomore goalie Connor Mahon also contributed heavily – he faced a whopping 60 shots.

“He likes seeing a lot of rubber,” Brady said.

And of his team’s effort, Brady said “I’d give it a good B.”

Mullen will next see action on Friday, Dec. 8, when it will host Chatfield at the Edge.

Ice is nice – Mullen player numbers on the rise

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

Color Mullen head coach Devon Brady relieved.

“This is the first year that I’ve been here that I was not concerned whether or not we would have a program because of numbers,” the third-year head coach said.

He’s not kidding. A year ago, he said his Mustangs, already taking hits from graduation and not reloading the roster with underclassmen, also were getting thin through a rash of injuries. Brady pointed out the Mustangs were 1-16 and facing a season finale at Pueblo County.

The thing was, the Mustangs went down Interstate-25 with just eight skaters and a goalie, and hung in there before losing 9-4.

“Last year was hard,” Brady said.

However, now in his third season leading the Mustangs, Brady said 23 players are in the program “and we have 11 freshman and we’re definitely headed in the right direction. I’m really excited about it.”

Sophomore goalie Connor Mahon returns. So does senior and No. 2 scorer from 2016-17 Matt Byrley (seven goals, six assists), a forward Brady calls “hands down our best player.” There are also three defensemen back – senior Richie Connell, junior John Witwer and sophomore Zack Banko.

“Then a ton of freshman, so we’ll be young and small, but definitely headed in the right direction,” said Brady, who played defense for a bit at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn.

The coach said a half-dozen victories isn’t out of the question for this season, nor is a potential playoff berth.

Mullen will open with a home game at the Edge Ice Arena against Denver East on Dec. 2 (9:30 p.m.). The Mustangs will have three games in four days (Dec. 8-11), including opening Highlands League play on Dec. 9 against Rampart, 9:15 p.m., at Sertich Arena.

The regular season will end on Feb. 17. And the state-playoff bracket will be released on Feb. 18.

Last season’s state champion was Monarch of Louisville.


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