After a near seven month hiatus from being on the ice, the Glenwood Springs Demons hockey team traveled to Denver to play in the Twisted Wrister tournament and ended up on the second step of the podium.
New Year, New Me turned out to be true for the Demons this year, as they came out with a new name just for this year’s first tournament: the Glenwood Grizzlies. Using the new name solely for the tournament, the name surely struck fear into their rivals with their back to back wins. The win against the Chaparral Eagles, a team that knocked them out of the playoffs in February 6-0, was an amazing first victory for the start of the season. The Chaparral Eagles didn’t stand a chance, as 26 seconds after the puck dropped, Senior Colter Strautman found the back of the net with the assist coming from Senior captain Max Mencimer. Strautman didn’t let off the gas though, putting two past the Eagles goalkeeper in the first period. The hats flew and when the horn blew for the end of the first period, the Grizzlies were up 5-0, thanks to goals from Seniors Connor Powell and Ian Holm. Senior Robbie Weir capped the scoring off in the second period. Senior goalie, Daelin Renzi, faced only 16 shots the whole game, as the Grizzlies coasted to an easy 6-0 win.
Strautman didn’t stop there though. He zinged three more into the twine the next day against West Elk, a combination team from Crested Butte and Gunnison. Mencimer also got in on the scoring frenzy, lighting the lamp twice in the 5-2 victory. Later that day, the Grizzlies matched up against Fort Collins. Early in the first period, the Grizzlies capitalized on a power play as Strautman got his seventh goal in three games. This ended up being all the grizzlies needed, but Senior Nolan Mcpherson got his first two of the tournament as insurance. Renzi faced 18 shots and rejected all of them, earning his second shutout.
Sunday wasn’t any different for the Grizzlies. Strautman reached double digits in goals, with yet another hattrick. Mcpherson capped the scoring off with a goal in the second, as the Grizzlies rolled right past Chatfield with a 4-1 victory.
“Coming into this year, we lost a lot of our seniors from last year and they were a big part of our team,” Strautman said. “So coming into this season I really wanted to get bonded with some of our younger players because we’re really going to need them to step into their roles on the team. Besides that it felt really good to get back on the ice with the team and I’m really excited for what we’re going to accomplish this year.”
On Monday the Grizzlies had their closest game of the tournament so far. Matching up against the Columbine Rebels. Who the Grizzlies/Demons knocked out of the playoffs early this February. The Rebels didn’t forget about this, their chippy play resulted in lots of shorthanded play, for both sides. Renzi played amazing, facing 32 shots, and only letting three by. Strautman once again led the scoring with two in this game. Goals from sophomores Jonas Kohout and Kade Winger led the Grizzlies to a 4-3 win.
The Grizzlies, undefeated at this point had steamrolled through every team they had faced thus far. With all that in their rearview mirror, the Grizzlies looked to go undefeated and grab the gold. They met the Valor Eagles in the finals. Strautman started the scoring off late in the first, but the Eagle answered 14 seconds later, as the two teams left the ice for the zamboni knotted at 1’s. The second period hurt the Grizzlies heavily. They spent 16 of the 17 minutes in the period short handed.
“Our penalty kill is strong and we are going to keep playing as hard as we can, but being more focused on the game not the refs will help us get back on track,” said Mencimer.
The Eagles took advantage of the upper hand and managed to get two past Renzi in the second period, who had been playing outstandingly thus far in the tournament. Mencimer got one past the Eagles goaltender in the third but it wasn’t enough. The horn sounded and the Eagles were crowned champs.
“We had the same plan the entire tournament,” verbalized Mencimer. “Put the puck deep, get out and forecheck. Having a third man high in their offensive zone was key to stopping their breakout, with only 13 kids it was hard to keep the pressure up, but I believe that Valor is going to remember playing us.”
This was a very impressive performance by the Grizzlies. They lost nine seniors last year, including their captain, as well as their starting goalie. Because of COVID-19, the Grizzlies had very limited practice time. They only took the ice together one time before this tournament as a whole team.
“This weekend did not only feel great [to be back on the ice] but it was a great representation of how our team is starting to come together,” Mencimer said. “From the major loss of kids last year to putting up the numbers we did, I can’t wait to play hockey with all of them. Everyone stepped up into their roles and we fit as a team.”