Glenwood Springs High School boys’ hockey seems to score big on a small change. That change came when some Aspen players showed up to play for Demons varsity.
Honestly, I feel like we have a really good team this year, said Jacob Barlow, a junior from Roaring Fork High School, during a cold Monday practice session at the Glenwood Springs Community Center rink. We have a good chance of going far in the playoffs.
In September, the Skiers players were informed that Aspen High School hockey will not be playing varsity for the 2022-2023 season. Reasons included a lack of seniors and consternation over experience.
However, any Aspen players who wanted to compete at the varsity level had a chance to save the season: go to Glenwood Springs Hockey.
I really appreciate them for driving all the way here to come play with us, Barlow said. They definitely bring a new dynamic to the team.
Demons varsity hockey finished last season with six wins and 13 losses. They also haven’t had a winning season since 2019-20. In the preseason rankings released Monday night by the Colorado High School Activities Association, the Demons, now equipped with eight seniors and seven juniors, are spotted seventh in class 4A hockey.
They would host a two-game series against top-ranked Cheyenne Mountain this weekend. But the series was postponed.
Shave ice and take knees for Tim Cota, longtime Glenwood Springs head coach, on Monday were Aspen High School seniors Ryder Rondeau and Carson Miller.
With their first showdown of the season just days away and, more importantly, against a Cheyenne Mountain powerhouse, Miller was highly optimistic about former rivals working together.
I just love the atmosphere in the locker room and the drive to Glenwood, he said. Everyone is very excited. It’s always competitive and it’s just a hard-working bunch of guys.
Practice in Glenwood Springs typically begins at 4 p.m. Miller said he left Aspen High School’s class at 2:30 p.m. to arrive on time.
Being told he could only play junior varsity in his hometown was a hard pill to swallow for Rondeau. But the decision to go out for Glenwood varsity made the taste bittersweet.
It was kind of unfortunate, and I was definitely sad about it, Rondeau said of not playing Aspen varsity. But the team here will be good.
Speed is one of Glenwood Springs hockey’s main strengths right now. It is also one of the first teams that Rondeau is in with as many as four lines that we can run anywhere, he said.
Glenwood Springs High School senior and Demons forward Avner Mangeot said he already sees some good preseason skills coming together between the two groups. The experience helps the team, but he also thinks of the bigger picture.
Our Western Slope is trying to compete with Denver and the big schools, he said. That we are coming together is a very good sign.
Cota, who already had his 600th career win as a head coach this fall during the Glenwood Grizzlies 18U season, said Glenwood has historically drawn kids from all over New Castle, Rifle, Carbondale and now even as far as Grand Junction.
When Aspen kids come to play, it’s no different, Cota said.
The kids tend to gel quite quickly, he said. Sometimes the coaches are probably a little more apprehensive than the kids.
But they came and fit very well in our dressing room.
Cota said the Demons were developing their depth last season with a younger core of players. But now, looking at what they have with their forward depth supplemented by Aspen, the goal is to make the senior support all four lines seem incomprehensible to opposing banks.
We want to be a team that nobody knows how to defend us, Cota said.
Cota hopes the early season bouts will be great tests for Glenwood. It could be a good, promising start to clinching a conference championship, one of Cota’s main goals this season.
What we’ve seen over the fall is that we have a hungry group of guys, he said. We’re still a young team, but now we have some senior support from the valley, which has been a great mix so far.
For Miller, he feels that any kind of rivalry between Glenwood and Aspen is a thing of the past, and that the future is now something he looks forward to.
We were going for a state championship, he said. Everything is possible.
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