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'Stangs on the ice board

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
Mullen snaps a 7-game losing streak with a 6-3 victory over Air Academy; Leo Mansfield and Lucas Nafe each score twice.
LITTLETON – The grind that is ice hockey hasn’t ground up Mullen.

No, the Mustangs, who have been mostly outmanned in size, speed, experience, skill and age in 2021-22, refuse to accept it. They dropped their first seven games, were outscored by an aggregate 44-3 and could have folded.

However, they sensed their first victory on Thursday and made it happen  -- the Mustangs beat Air Academy 6-3 at The Edge Ice Arena.

Mullen climbed out of the Class 4A North League cellar at 1-2 and is 1-7 overall. The Kadets are 0-8, 0-4, and never mind they have been outscored 59-17.

“This was a good step for us and a lot of fun,” Mustangs head coach Devon Brady said.

The coach has been through this recently – the past season’s senior-dominated group that narrowly missed one of the postseason’s few spots also took its lumps as underclassmen.

“There’s a lack of consistency when 85 percent of your roster is 16-and-under,” he said. “And we still have to learn how to close out games.”

The ups and downs that have included playing well against some good teams as well as “not showing up,” he said, are simply part of the deal.

But on Thursday, the Mustangs seized control with a 3-0 first period. Overall, junior Leo Mansfield scored twice and added an assist; Lucas Nafe scored twice; and Ciaran Dooley and Lommen Ramsdale contributed goals.

“It was good,” said Mansfield, a right wing. “The first (seven) games were rough and we never really had any momentum. We took this game as an opportunity.”

With the Kadets employing the physical approach – they also had a player ejected as well as a coach -- that has been relevant for every Mustangs foe, Brady said “I thought we did OK with it. it’s not our game, but we stood our ground, we got pucks deep … we continue to grind away and I was impressed for the most part that we kept our composure.”

Ben Hollingsworth had three assists, and Archer Shea and Jeff Witwer two each for Mullen, which began the first of three games in three days. On Friday, Mullen will be in Steamboat Springs to take on the Sailors at 6:15 p.m. and have a Saturday game in Breckenridge against Summit at 6 p.m.

Air Academy  0  1  2  --  3 

Mullen  3  2  1  --  6 

First Period

1, Mullen Ciaran Dooley (Jake Truell), 1:50, pp; 2, Mullen Lucas Nafe (Ben Hollingsworth, Jeff Witwer), 8:11, pp; 3, Mullen Leo Mansfield (Ciaran Dooley, Ben Hollingsworth), 13:35.

Second Period

4, Air Academy, 4:54, pp; 5, Mullen Leo Mansfield (Archer Shea), 6:13; 6, Mullen Lucas Nafe (Jeff Witwer, Ben Hollingsworth), 7:34.

Third Period

7, Air Academy, 4:10, pp; 8, Mullen Lommen Ransdale (Leo Mansfield, Archer Shea), 5:35; 9, Air Academy, 13:23.

Penalties – Air Academy 7 for 12 minutes; Mullen 5 for 12 minutes.

Power plays – Air Academy 2-for-5; Mullen 2-for-7.

Shots – Air Academy 5-7-13—25; Mullen 12-10-12—34.

Saves – Air Academy 28; Will Dobson, Mullen 22.