LITTLETON – Indeed, it’s early in the abbreviated ice hockey season, but Mullen, which has had a lot of frustration and hard times over the past half-dozen years, is starting to compile up a series of firsts, successes and turn-arounds.
On Saturday night, the Mustangs blasted Rampart 10-5 to open play in their classification’s new North League, a shootout of sorts at The Edge Ice Arena that also permitted fans.
The Mustangs moved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in league. Both had never occurred under coach Devon Brady, who’s in his sixth season heading the program. They also hadn’t reached double figures in goals in a game. Throw in the fact that Brady had to have a freshman make his debut in goal and there might be something developing this season, also in the first year of Class 4A.
“A lot of highs and lows,” Brady said afterward in assessing the game. “We did a lot of really good things in the neutral zone, angling, not giving up the blue line … we did get a little lackadaisical in the second period, but guys were playing harder than they were used to and we’ll get better at that with more practice.”
The Mustangs also responded to what Brady called “track-meet hockey,” as opposed to playing “from goaltending out.”
Mullen built a 4-1 lead, weathered sporadic play in the second period and was in a newer position to both trade goals and build on its lead.
Plus, beating Rampart for the first time in Brady’s tenure added an additional sweet aspect as did having ninth-grader Logan Clothier start in goal in favor of senior Kai Bigham, who will be sidelined 4-to-6 weeks with a broken collarbone after a motorcycle accident.
So, no, it’s not all rosy for the Mustangs, although enjoyment is spreading.
“Yeah, it felt good to finally beat those guys,” Hayden Klem said after scoring a hat trick and adding an assist.
Clothier, who found out about Bigham’s injury on Thursday, said his initial reaction about starting was “Wow! That’s a lot of pressure!,” but quickly settled into his spot in the crease.
“I wanted to play and it was fun,” he said, adding especially “for the first time against a team we hadn’t beaten before. It was faster than I was used to with a lot more contact than usual.”
But as Klem said, “we did skate pretty well. There were lulls there, there were highs, but there were more highs than downs. (Clothier) stepped up today. We didn’t change anything, but we were
aware we had a less-experienced goalie at the back end.”
As for the other end, Klem had lots of company. Amos Mills and Larry Simons each scored twice in the first period. Robby Witwer and Leo Mansfield added goals as did Eoin Canavan, who capped the scoring with a laser slapshot a stride-or-so inside the blue line.
“He hammered it,” Brady said.
Canavan added a couple of helpers as did Simons. Witwer, Aidan Cashman, J.C. Carter, Riley Watters, Mills and Nick Gilbert contributed assists as did, of all players, Clothier from his crease.
Encouraged by what he’s seeing, an experienced Brady said: “We’ll see what happens.”
The Mustangs will turn around and face Rampart again, this time on Wednesday, Feb. 10, puck drop at 1 p.m., at Sertich Ice Arena in Colorado Springs.
MULLEN 10, RAMPART 6
Rampart 1 3 1 -- 5
Mullen 4 3 3 -- 10
1, Mullen, Amos Mills, (unassisted), 2:13; 2, Rampart, pp, Gavin Costa (Gavin Cannon, Hayden Winkelman), 4:10; 3, Mullen, Amos Mills (unassisted), 5:34; 4, Mullen, Larry Simons (Eoin Canavan, Nick Gilbert), 7:44; 5, Mullen, Larry Simons (Robby Witwer, Amos Mills).
6, Mullen, Hayden Klem (Larry Simons), 2:48; 7, Rampart, Sam Culp, pp (Kiko Miller, Sean Melnyk), 5:10; 8, Rampart, Noah Miller (Michael Barber, Kian Bandico), 5:17; 9, Mullen, Hayden Klem (Riley Watters, Logan Clothier), 9:45; 10, Mullen, Robby Witwer (Eoin Canavan), 10:58; 11, Rampart, Jaxon Daniels, pp (Sean Melnyk, Nick Lande), 12:32.
12, Mullen, Hayden Klem (unassisted), 4:20; 13, Rampart, Noah Miller (Michael Barber, Gavin Costa), 5:08; 14, Mullen, Leo Mansfield (Aidan Cashman, J.C. Carter), 12:19; 15, Mullen Eoin Canavan (Hayden Klem, Larry Simons), 14:59.
Shots: Rampart 8-10-8 – 28; Mullen 15-11-9 -- 35.
Power plays; Rampart 3-for-8; Mullen 0-for-8.
Penalties: Rampart 19 minutes on eight infractions; Mullen 19 minutes on 8 infractions.