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With its eight-game winning streak, including running the table with its weekend’s tripleheader, the Los Alamos Hilltopper hockey team moved into first place in league standings.
Los Alamos (8-1) took sole possession of the top spot in the New Mexico Interscholastic Ice Hockey League, thanks largely to the trifecta this weekend.
It owns 16 points, two more than the team it moved past, Taos, and holds a half-game lead over both Taos and Albuquerque’s Outkast, although the Outkast have 17 total points.
Following their season-opening loss to Taos, the Hilltoppers have been on a tear, that culminating with the weekend’s three-game sweep. The Hilltoppers knocked off Santa Fe, St. Pius X and Rio Rancho in 24 hours, with the latter two contests being road affairs.
Los Alamos upended Santa Fe, one of its main rivals in recent years, 5-1 at home Friday night.
Saturday, against the St. Pius Sartans, the Hilltoppers’ Brett Snow scored a pair of goals and Dennis Trujillo tallied what would be the game winner.
Goaltender Devin Grider stopped nine shots, while his counterpart Chris Ottino had to deal with 22 shots, saving 17.
To round off the weekend’s games, Chase Havemann scored three goals and had an assist as the Hilltoppers thumped Rio Rancho for the second time this season.
Los Alamos outshot Rio Rancho 34-22 in the contest. Grider stopped all of the Rio Rancho attempts to earn his third shutout of 2010.
Through last weekend’s games, Grider was statistically the No. 2-rated goaltender in the NMIIHL, Grider’s 1.44 goals-against average tops the league and his .909 save percentage is second behind only Eldorado’s Dakota Orth. Grider is also third in minutes played between the pipes.
Also for Los Alamos, Graham Delano and Kurt Schramm picked up goals against Rio Rancho, with Schramm also handing out two assists.
Los Alamos will have a stiff test in its quest to hold onto the league’s top spot this week. Los Alamos hosts the Outkast in the first of two season meetings. That game is slated for 8 p.m. Friday at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink.
While at 8-2-1, the Outkast definitely aren’t slouches, the Hilltoppers and Tigers seem to be the teams to beat as the NMIIHL heads into its final weekend before a holiday layoff. Most teams won’t resume play until Jan. 21.
Taos’ Ice Tigers handily defeated the Outkast Sunday, taking a 5-1 victory in Albuquerque. The Tigers also nipped the Outkast 4-3 in their first meeting Nov. 13 to earn the season sweep.
Los Alamos still has to face Albuquerque two times. The teams’ second meeting is set for Jan. 23.
Offensively, Los Alamos has been sparked by Jade Costello.
Costello, a newcomer to the team this season, picked up two straight five-goal contests.
He tallied five goals against Taos Dec. 4 in Los Alamos’ huge 8-0 victory, then mirrored that feat against Santa Fe last Friday.
Despite appearing in just seven games this season, Costello has already notched 20 goals, just three behind Eldorado’s Jonathan Edwards, currently the most prolific goal-scorer in the state.
Also for Los Alamos, Snow has six goals and six assists, while Schramm has eight goals, five assists and Havemann has earned seven goals and three assists.
Following Friday’s game with the Outkast, Los Alamos takes on Cibola (7-5-1) Saturday in Albuquerque. Los Alamos topped Cibola 5-1 in its first meeting Dec. 5.