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Hockey: ’Toppers pick up home, road win

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By Jean Picard

The Los Alamos Hilltopper hockey team won a pair of big games this weekend, maintaining its undefeated mark this season.

In a rematch of last season’s New Mexico Interscholastic Ice Hockey League championship game, Los Alamos defeated Rio Rancho 8-3 Friday. Then, Saturday, the Hilltoppers topped the Taos Ice Tigers for the second time this season, sweeping the home-and-home series of the arch-rivals, 8-2.

Los Alamos put the pressure on early in Friday’s contest, taking 20 shots-on-goal in the first period, to just 4 shots by Rio Rancho.

Ben Havemann led the scoring effort with two goals, which were followed up by goals from Kory Archuleta and Brad Picard.

At the end of the first period the Hilltoppers led 4-1.  

Los Alamos extended its lead in the second period with another goal by Havemann, who secured his third hat trick of the season.

John Baca added a goal in the middle of the second period and Dylan Schreiber blasted a slap shot from the point to put Los Alamos up 7-2 at the second intermission.  

Rio Rancho (5-3), which has the best power play average in the league (.545 percent), capitalized on the lone penalty Los Alamos had in the contest, closing the gap to 7-3 in the final period.

Rio Rancho’s Jordan Farnholtz inflicted the damage and recorded his second hat trick of the season.

Los Alamos finished its scoring with a when Zach Mang made a move on the goalie to put home the eighth and final goal.

This season Los Alamos has averaged better than 8 goals per contest.

Dylan Stupka earned the victory in goal with 15 saves.

With the loud support of its fans, the Taos hockey team came out playing a fast paced, physical game Saturday.

The Ice Tigers scored first only 1:06 into the first period, trying to reverse their fortunes after losing the teams’ first meeting of the season 18-2 in Los Alamos.

Picard evened the score with a goal at the 6:03 mark, with assists going to Mang and Havemann.

Los Alamos took the lead with 2:00 to play in the first with Oliver Funsten’s goal.  

The 2-1 Hilltopper edges held up through most of a hard-fought second period. Each team had scoring chances that were turned away by the respective goalies.  

In the final 3:48 of the second, Los Alamos exploded with four goals to break the game open. Mang and Picard each scored two goals late.

Following the second intermission, Taos (4-5) answered with a quick goal to open the final period, but Los Alamos quickly put an to Taos’ hopes of a comeback by adding four more scores.

Picard scored twice in the final period, while single goals were scored by Nathan Sharp and Funsten.  

Stupka won his second game in a row, stopping 32 shots.

Los Alamos will retain the North Star Trophy until they meet Taos again.

The Hilltoppers (9-0-1) are off until Jan. 23 when they play Santa Fe at home.

The Jan. 23 contest is the final home game of the season.

A ceremony will be held to honor the team’s seniors that night at Los Alamos County Ice Rink.