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Hockey defeats rival Taos in comeback fashion

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By Phil Scherer

The Los Alamos High School ice hockey team waited a long time to make its season debut at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink.

And even as the date of the home opener arrived, the team had to wait a little longer.

The Hilltoppers were scheduled to debut Friday evening against the Taos High School Ice Tigers. However, an issue with the rink’s ice compressor caused the game to be canceled, and pushed the home opener back to Saturday evening.

When LAHS finally took the ice, the team did not disappoint, defeating Taos 7-3 with an impressive offensive display over the final two periods.

The game did not start well for the Hilltoppers, as LAHS only put two shots on goal in the first period despite having two early power play opportunities. Movement in the offensive zone was unorganized, and players were coming up empty on scoring opportunities in front of the net.

Taos had 10 shots on goal in the opening period, and scored the game’s first goal with just six seconds remaining in the period, giving the Ice Tigers a 1-0 lead.

The Hilltoppers were more aggressive to begin the second period, with more pressure in front of the net.

The pressure paid off, as Jacob Rutten tied the score at 1-1 off of an assist from Jacob Dunwoody just under three minutes into the period.

Following the goal, however, Taos regained control and scored two quick goals just over a minute apart. The Ice Tigers had a 3-1 lead, and appeared to be cruising.

Instead of allowing the two-goal deficit to crush them, the LAHS players seemed to wake up and began playing with much more ferocity.

Among the most aggressive was Ray Guffee, who scored a pair of goals before the end of the period to even the score at 3-3, with one period to play.

John Charles and Tyler Weiss assisted on the first goal, and Ben Rees assisted on the second.

After tying the score, there was no stopping the Hilltoppers. Just 90 seconds into the final period, Jared Carnes gave LAHS its first lead of the game on a wide-open shot right in front of the net.

Rutten extended the led halfway through the period to make it 5-3, then the Hilltoppers the sixth goal just eight seconds later.

Rutten also played a part in that goal with an assist to Dunwoody, the goal scorer.

A short-handed goal by Charles extended the lead to 7-3, and the Hilltoppers ran out the clock for a 7-4 victory.

Taos outshot LAHS 40-24 in the game, and Hilltopper goalie Sam Fisher made 36 saves.

LAHS went 1-4 on the power play, with the only goal coming from Rutten.

The win moves LAHS to 3-0 this season. The Hilltoppers have outscored opponents 25-7 so far.

The Hilltoppers will be back in action at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink this weekend for games against La Cueva Friday at 8:15 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.