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Hockey: Toppers open showcase tonight

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By Dann Alison

The Los Alamos Hilltopper hockey team will take part this weekend in mid-season tournament play in Taos.  

These non-New Mexico Interscholastic Ice Hockey League games are a mid-season All-Star showcase event. The games are used for player selection to the league’s All-Star finale later this season.  

Tonight, the Hilltoppers face the Santa Fe Blue Jackets (9-0).  These two teams met last in early December with the Blue Jackets prevailing 4-1.  The game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Saturday night, the Hilltoppers will face the Albuquerque OutKast. The Hilltoppers opened the season against this team and lost 4-1 with the OutKast picking up four breakaway goals.

That game time is 7:30 p.m.

Los Alamos completes the weekend’s events with an 8:30 a.m. Sunday contest. It will face the Cibola Cougars (4-3-1).  This will be the first meeting between these teams this season.

Comparing statistics, the teams appear to be very evenly matched. The Cougars’ scoring is dominated by their first line while the Hilltoppers have a very good first line – led by Neel Gupta’s 12 season goals — but they may have more depth on the second and third lines than do the Cougars.  

Cibola goalie Antonio Santiago’s save percentage (.868) very similar to that of Hilltopper goalie Devin Grider (.888).

All tournament games will be played at the Taos Family Center. The games will also be broadcast live on KRSN AM 1490.

The Hilltoppers (7-2) resume regular season play Jan. 22 when they host Rio Rancho.