Hockey: Toppers return to LA following losses

-A A +A
By Dann Alison

The Los Alamos Hilltopper hockey team dropped a pair of games last weekend heading into tonight’s home game against Cibola.

Los Alamos will play the La Cueva Bears tonight at the Los Alamos County Ice Rink. Game time is 7 p.m.

Last weekend was a tough series, battling against weather, tilted ice, and rough times for the goaltender.

In its Jan. 22 contest, the Hilltoppers face the undefeated Santa Fe Blue Jackets.  

Los Alamos goalie Devin Grider was peppered the entire game as the Hilltoppers were outshot 43-10.

Weather-influenced accidents on U.S. 285 between Los Alamos and Santa Fe delayed many of Los Alamos’ team members’ arrival until the third period.

That, coupled with a hot-shooting Blue Jackets team lead to a lopsided 9-0 Santa Fe victory.

Santa Fe opened scoring early against Los Alamos and never looked back. The Hilltoppers found themselves down 5-0 at the end of the first period and 7-0 at the end of the second. By the time the late-arriving Hilltoppers got into the game, the outcome was all but decided.  Another two third period goals by the Blue Jackets closed out the scoring.

Those same two teams met in New Mexico Interscholastic Ice Hockey play in early December, with Santa Fe coming out on top 4-1 in a well-played game. They met again in early January in the Showcase Tournament with a similar 3-1 result.

Saturday, the Hilltoppers faced the Cibola Cougars for the first time in league play.

The Hilltoppers outworked, outshot and outhustled the Cougars, but still lost 4-2.  Scoring by Hilltopper offensive leaders Neel Gupta and Oliver Funsten was not enough to overcome the Cougars, who managed the four goals despite being outplayed.

The Hilltoppers opened the scoring in the first period with a nice goal by Neel Gupta from Christopher Owens, but a few minutes later, a tripping penalty by Funsten lead to a Cougar power-play goal to tie the score at the end of the first period.  

The Cougars lit the lamp again in the second period on a five-hole shot following a Los Alamos turnover at the blue line by its first-liners.

Funsten scored on the power play late in the period to knot the score at 2-2 heading into the third.

The third period largely belonged to the Hilltoppers as they were constantly pressuring the Cougar goal, but were unable to get anything over the line.

On the defensive side, the Hilltoppers faced only five shots in the third but allowed two goals to close out the game.

The Hilltoppers, now 7-4, are hoping to locate their offensive spark when they play the Bears. Following tonight’s game, they will play the St. Pius X Sartans at Outpost Arena Sunday morning.