Hockey: 'Toppers close out season with wins

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By The Staff

The Los Alamos Hilltopper ice hockey team grabbed victories in its final regular season outings this weekend.
The Hilltoppers routed the Santa Fe Blue Jackets 8-1 Friday night in Santa Fe, then topped the La Cueva Bears at home Sunday, taking a 7-5 decision.
Against the Blue Jackets, Los Alamos broke open a 1-0 game after one period, scoring three times in the second period and four more in the third. Santa Fe’s lone goal of the game came on a power play chance with 4:19 remaining.
Tyler Thorn, Chris Owens and Brett Snow all finished with two goals Friday, with Thorn tallying the opening goal of the game at the 8:41 mark of the first period. Snow scored in the second and third periods and Owens had back-to-back goals in the third.
Also scoring Friday were John Alison early in the second period and Graham Delano with just six seconds remaining in the contest. Tim Branch had three assists and Drew Betts had two assists.
Los Alamos finished with a whopping 52 shots-on-goal to Santa Fe’s nine.
In Sunday’s contest, a makeup game that was postponed Feb. 6, the Hilltoppers held off a late comeback attempt by the Bears to pick up their seventh straight victory to close out the regular season.
With the Bears trailing 6-3 in the third period, they scored two goals, one by Dylan Dejonckheere at the 7:37 mark and one by James Wing with 1:55 remaining to pull within one of the Hilltoppers.
But Los Alamos managed to retain its lead. With just one tick left, Niko Meneakis scored to punctuate the victory.
Jade Castello earned a hat trick Sunday, scoring the bookend goals in the first period — the Hilltoppers led 4-3 going into the first intermission — and picking up his third early in the second period off a Meneakis assist. Castello also picked up three assists in the game.
Castello, who appeared in 12 games this season, finished the regular season among the state’s scoring leaders with 26 goals and eight assists.
Owens, Alison and Dillon Coyne scored the other goals for the Hilltoppers. Delano finished with a pair of assists.
In goal, Devin Grider finished with 15 saves.
Los Alamos (15-2-1) finishes the regular season in second place behind Taos (16-2-0), which clinched the New Mexico Interscholastic Ice Hockey League title with an 11-1 win over St. Pius X this weekend. Taos finished its season as the most prolific goal-scoring team in the state with 134 goals for. Los Alamos had the stingiest defense in the state, giving up 26 goals allowed.
The Hilltoppers beat out Albuquerque’s OutKast (13-2-2), the only NMIIHL team it did not beat during the regular season, for the runner-up spot by three points.