Defending league champion Aspen Leafs visited newcomer Steamboat Wranglers over the weekend with each team earning two points. With both teams chasing the league leading Miners neither would lose or gain ground in the standings.
The series opener saw an evenly played first period which ended in a route with Steamboat going on to win 6-1. Kameron Fink and Quinny Baker each scored a pair while Trevor DiLauro stopped 23 of 24 shots to help the Wranglers triumph at Howelsen Arena.
In the rematch it was Aspen who took command from the start scoring two goals in the opening nine minutes. By first intermission the Leafs led 3-1.
Special teams played a big part in the Leafs victory as Jesus Barrera-Garcia scored the first of two goals on the night at 5:05 via the powerplay. Viacheslev Goev gave Aspen a 2-0 lead before Steamboat would hit the board on a goal scored by Baker.
A shorthanded goal from Brett Hawkins at the 17:56 mark of the first gave Aspen momentum which they carried into the second period. Despite outshooting the Wranglers 15-5 the score remained 3-1 after two periods.
The home team woke up in the third and were rewarded with a goal from Eric Heitman at 5:30. That goal cut the lead to 3-2, but a powerplay goal by Barrera-Garcia followed by a goal by Jarrett McDonald just :33 later gave Aspen a 5-2 advantage. Steamboat would get a late marker scored by Cory Kohut, but it was not enough as the Leaf earned a series split.
Pasco, Wash. native Austin McCain made 29 saves to improve his season record to 5-2-0-1. Aspen hit the holiday break with 26 points, trailing Pikes Peak (40 points). Steamboat is close behind with 21 points.