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Grizzlies win Midget Kingdom Cup championship

By Josh Carney - G.S.P.I., 10/12/17, 12:00AM MDT

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GO GRIZZLIES!!!

Joshua Carney

October 11, 2017

The Glenwood Grizzlies Midget Major A hockey team kicked off the 2017-18 season in thrilling fashion to close September, winning the Summit County Midget Kingdom Cup championship in five games, topping teams from Summit, Mullen and Vail.

To start the tournament, Glenwood met up with the Summit High School team for game one. The two teams battled for three periods, but it was the Grizzlies who roared back from a one-goal deficit twice to win 4-3 as Ryan Kotz scored two goals for Glenwood, while Devlin Powell added one goal for the Grizzlies. But it was Max Mencimer who came through for the Grizzlies with third-period heroics, finding the back of the net just 4:53 into the period, which was more than enough for Glenwood to hang on for the opening-game win.

"Our first game was our weakest game, we were a bit tentative and getting our feet underneath us," Glenwood Head Coach Tim Cota said.

Glenwood came right back in game two against Mullen and battled to a 2-2 tie, coming back from two one-goal deficits for the second straight game. Against Mullen, Billett Porter scored for the Grizzlies, while Sean Mooney scored one goal in the 2-2 tie, setting up two straight games against Vail in a bit of a heated showdown.

In game three against Vail, Glenwood picked up a 4-3 win, locking them into a semifinal matchup with Vail in the fourth game of the tournament. Against Vail in the semifinal, Porter and Mencimer found the back of the net before Mencimer came through with his second game-winning goal of the tournament for the Grizzlies, potting a power-play goal to top Vail, pushing the Grizzlies into the Kingdom Cup championship game against Mullen.

"Back to back against the same Vail team Saturday night and then Sunday morning was not ideal," Cota said. "Tempers can flair up, but we handled it well and made some nice mental adjustments."

Capping off the strong start to the 2017-18 season, the Grizzlies pulled off the undefeated run through the tournament by topping Mullen 3-1 in the championship game as Porter set the tone of the game just 1:28 into the first period, giving the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead. Kotz scored the eventual game-winning goal to give the Grizzlies a 2-1 lead before Erich Albrecht tacked on a power play goal for Glenwood to finish off the 3-1 final.

"We thought with our depth development throughout the tourney we could exploit a possible weakness in the championship game with a shorter bench against Mullen," Cota said. "We thought that was key, and it did seem like Mullen was a bit fatigued and we had the extra jump.

"In three out of the five games, we had to come back from one or two-goal deficits to get the tie or win," he added. "We were able to keep our composure, stick to a game plan and come out on top. That, in itself, shows you the character of a hockey team. It was nice to look at a score sheet and have a offensive attack that your opponent couldn't quite figure out. It wasn't one or two players for us; everyone contributed from the defense, to the red, gold and green lines. They all had their hands in the offense."

Along with a terrific offensive attack at the Summit tournament, Glenwood goaltenders Hunter Hadsock and Daelan Renzi took turns starting games for the Grizzlies, playing a big part in the Midget Major A team winning the tournament championship.

"Our tenders were solid throughout the tourney," Cota said. "They turned in some game-rescuing saves that turned a potential momentum swing back to our direction, and we fed off that."

The Grizzly Hockey 18U Midget team will compete this weekend in the annual Fall Face Off tournament in Aspen, with the first game against the host Aspen Leafs team at 7:45 p.m. tonight at Lewis Ice Arena.

This will commence a Grizzly Hockey charge as all the Glenwood travel teams will be competing in the annual event, which is now in it's 24th year of existence.

In all, seven Glenwood Springs Youth Hockey Association teams will compete over the three-week Fall Face Off event, kicking off the 2017-18 season even before the ice is settled in Glenwood, which should be complete at the end of October.

"With the continued support of our community we are very excited to get our Grizzly Hockey season fully underway, and continue building off the successes of the past seasons," GSYHA Executive Director of Hockey TK Kwiatkowski said. "Our outlook on the upcoming season is very positive, as we have many returning seniors at the Midget/High School level, along with a solid base of players & families moving up to our travel program from our 8U Mite/IP Rec level."