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Kadets rewarded for persistence
Jared Shuck put his hands to his helmet. He couldn’t believe he’d had a great look in the slot and put a one-timer directly into the body of Cheyenne Mountain goalie Cole Heggem.
Five minutes later Shuck’s hands were raised in celebration after he wristed a shot into the top corner of the net with 3:25 remaining, giving Air Academy a 3-2 victory over rival Cheyenne Mountain.
“Overall it was just a great play,” Shuck said. “We started out hard on the forecheck. (Christian Gums) and (Travis Hinton) really came through and got the puck to me.”
Cheyenne Mountain killed off a 5-minute major that spanned the second and third periods and carried that momentum into a power play of its own. Brockton Ward one-timed a cross-ice feed to put the Indians (0-1) up 2-1 with 11:30 remaining.
“I definitely think we got some mometum,” Ward said. “We never really worked on the penalty kill, we were still piecing it together.”
The Kadets (2-0) answered about 4 minutes later with a power-play goal. Everett Valtin’s wrister from the point floated through traffic to tie the score.
“The kids played outstanding,” said Air Academy assistant coach James Risenhoover, who was filling in for Dave Meisinger. “Their effort, I couldn’t have asked for anything else.”
The Kadets took advantage of Cheyenne Mountain playing its first game. Air Academy outshot the Indians 30-21 and forced a number of turnovers in the Indians’ zone, including the one that led to Shuck’s goal.
“That’s part of our philosophy,” Shuck said. “It’s high risk, high reward. If we get burned we get burned bad. But when we’re working our forecheck hard we can easily get pucks to the net, get people to the net.”
Cheyenne Mountain coach Erik Austin was left looking for his first win behind his new team’s bench.
“We were nervous,” Austin said. “There were some nerves, there were some jitters ... It was the classic first game.”
Ryan Case scored on the power play to give the Indians a 1-0 lead.
As they did all night, the Kadets answered, a Hinton power-play goal tying the score at 1.
“We just kept believing in each other,” Shuck said. “That’s what’s different about this team from past years. Nobody gets down on each other. Everybody’s backing each other up. Everybody’s getting each other amped for the next period. It really pays off for us.”