It was a two-goal loss, but when considering everything Mullen ice hockey coach Devon Brady gave his team a B-plus.
The Mustangs fell to Columbine 4-2 in their season opener on Friday night at The Edge Ice Arena in Littleton and getting under way allowed them to deal with some of the unexpected shortcomings they ran into prior to the start of preseason practice.
After multiple players either moved away or were dismissed and the coaching staff literally had to find another goalie because of injury, the Mustangs seemed happy to finally go out and play.
“For our first game, (the Rebels’) second game, and that’s a huge difference, we were just trying to get a feel for things,” the coach said. “All things considered, it wasn’t bad.”
It began with goalie Alex Covi, who got the start in net. With senior Connor Mahon still gimpy with a knee sprain, Mullen had no other goalie on the roster. Hence, their search and designation took them to Denver, and Covi was available because he hadn’t played in a year and attends the DELTA School at George Washington.
Covi had a sharp first period, faced 35 shots, handled getting decked in the third period that resulted in a charging penalty on the Rebels and provided some life behind Mullen forwards and defensemen who had issues at times clearing and keeping the puck in the offensive zone.
Mullen had a 1-0 lead on a goal by Aidan Cashman and tied it at 2 on a score by Riley Watters 1 minute, 39 seconds into the second period.
But Columbine in winning the Highlands Conference game enjoyed better skating and passing, survived a 5-on-3 with 10 minutes to play and overcame 24 shots by the Mustangs.
Penalties also hurt Mullen, Brady said, “but we were down only one (3-2) going into the third period ... we’ll clean it up.”
The Mustangs were facing a quick turn-around – they had a nonconference matchup less than 13 hours later than the first puck dropped on Friday night, at 9:20 a.m. on Saturday, against Coronado at Sertich Arena in Colorado Springs.
In boys basketball, the Mustangs squandered an early lead and fell 71-66 to Lakewood in the first round of their Kick Off Tournament at Hutchison Fieldhouse.
In falling to 0-2, Mullen rolled to a 24-point first quarter, but combined for only 22 over the middle two.
Brayden Carter led the Mustangs with 27 points. Jackson Bond had 18 and Diallo Thompson 10.
Mullen will play Wheat Ridge at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
As for girls, the Mustangs rolled to leads of 15-5 and 39-17 in cruising to a 65-29 decision of Dakota Ridge in the semifinals of the Castle View/ThunderRidge Tournament.
Now 2-0, Mullen, the defending 4A Colorado champion and playing in Castle Rock, rode 17 points by junior Megan Pohs, 14 by Elaina Martinez and 11 by Imani Perez.
The Mustangs, who have won 10 game sin a row dating back to last season, will meet Centennial League rival Cherokee Trail in the tournament finale at 5 p.m. at ThunderRidge in Highlands Ranch.