Hockey: LA wins in its home finale

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By Jean Picard

The Los Alamos Hilltopper hockey team remained unbeaten and solidified its hold on first place with a 4-1 win over the Santa Fe Blue Jackets Friday.

The Blue Jackets (8-1-1), a composite New Mexico Interscholastic Ice Hockey League team representing St. Michael’s, Capital and Santa Fe High Schools went into Friday night’s game at Los Alamos County Ice Rink as the only team in the state that hadn’t yet fallen to the Hilltoppers. The two teams played to a 3-3 tie Nov. 23 at Santa Fe.

However, Los Alamos would pick up a win in its home finale of the season, grabbing a 4-1 decision at the ice rink.

The Hilltoppers (10-0-1) picked up their eighth win of the season at home, playing before the largest crowd of the season — approximately 250 spectators were on-hand — with fans from both communities coming out to cheer their teams to victory.

Los Alamos got on the scoreboard first Friday, after Santa Fe drew a penalty midway through the first period.

On their power play, Hilltopper Dylan Schreiber drilled a low slap shot at Santa Fe goalie Jordan Fuentes. The rebound came off Fuentes to a waiting Brad Picard who put the puck in the net, giving the Hilltoppers a 1-0 edge.

With just 10 seconds remaining in the first period, Santa Fe had a power play of its own. The league’s leading scorer, Peter Bessone, converted a pass from Alex Cloud–Russell to tie the game.

Santa Fe, however, was limited to just one more power play in the game.  

Los Alamos head coach Scott Havemann was pleased that Los Alamos gave up only two power play opportunities.

“We’ve really improved our discipline as our penalties have been cut in half from last year,” Havemann said following the contest.

The game remained tied heading into the second period as both teams battled back-and-forth throughout the start of the period.

Zach Mang, however, scored what would prove to be the game winner at 6:35 in the second.

In the third period, Picard converted on a pass from Mang to give Los Alamos a 3-1 lead.  Kory Archuleta closed out the scoring when he took a pass from Schreiber and beat two defensemen to score the fourth and final goal for Los Alamos.

Los Alamos goaltender Kyle Lupenski stopped 15 of 16 shots on goal to earn credit for the win.

Los Alamos extended its home winning streak to 14 games, a streak dating back to December 2007.  

On the team’s Senior Night, the 14 Hilltopper seniors savored their final home victory.  Los Alamos now has just five games remaining on its regular season schedule.

“We’ll work on defensive basics over the next three weeks, but overall I’m very happy with how things are going,” Havemann said.