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Durango varsity hockey wins midseason tournament

Demons down Telluride in championship
Zak Wentworth of Durango watches his shot sail past the Albuquerque Bears goalie earlier this season. Last weekend, Wentworth scored nine goals in four games to help Durano win the league’s midseason tournament. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

The Rio Grande High School Hockey League came together in Los Alamos, New Mexico, for its annual midseason all-star weekend tournament Friday through Sunday.

Durango’s high school varsity team played well at the tournament, going 4-0 to take home the championship.

Junior Zak Wentworth and sophomore Henry Howe led Durango’s offense. Wentworth scored nine goals and assisted eight for 17 total points in the weekend’s four games. Howe scored nine goals and assisted 10, for 19 points.

Durango's varsity high school hockey team celebrates after beating Telluride in Sunday's championship game of the Rio Grande High School Hockey League's midseason tournament. Courtesy Val Brock

Freshman goalie Evan Brock was between the pipes and earned all four wins with a 93.33 save percentage, including two shutouts.

Lots of other Demons contributed offensively. Senior Bode Ensign had four goals and four assists. Senior Billy Downey scored twice and had three assists. Senior Christoff Hollowell added two goals and an assist, and sophomore Eli Holden scored three goals and assisted two. Senior Lukas Petranek assisted five goals, and juniors Mitch Rhodus and Nick Best also assisted goals.

Durango started the tournament Friday with Brock earning a pair of shutouts. The Demons first scored a a 9-0 win over the Albuquerque Bears. The team then beat the New Mexico Cougars 10-0.

On Saturday, Durango celebrated a 6-3 win over the Los Alamos Hilltoppers. Wentworth scored the game-winning goal, assisted by Howe and Holden, to help Durango secure its spot in the championship game against the Telluride Miners.

Sunday morning was a brisk 24 degrees for the championship game’s 7 a.m. puck drop in Los Alamos’ outdoor rink.

Durango High School goalie Evan Brock stops an Albuquerque Bears shot earlier this season. Brock recorded two shutouts over the weekend to help Durango win the league’s mid-season tournament. Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file

Telluride was also undefeated heading into Saturday’s game, but Durango took an early advantage when senior Billy Downey assisted Holden midway through the first period.

Halfway through the second period, Downey assisted Holden again to give Durango a 2-0 lead. With 1:12 left in the period, Wentworth scored a power play goal, which ended up being his second game-winning goal of the weekend.

With a 3-0 in the third period, Telluride rallied and scored two goals to cut Durango’s lead to one, 3-2. Downey, however, would score an insurance goal, assisted by senior Christoff Hollowell, with 4:46 left to help Durango secure the win over the Miners, 4-2.

The Demons are off this weekend, but will head back to Los Alamos for two league games against the Hilltoppers Jan. 22-23.

Durango’s 12U-A team also competed in Albuquerque over the weekend, playing a three-game series against the New Mexico Ice Wolves.

Durango finished 2-1.

Durango won the first game, with goals from Cooper Brown, Ben Blanchard (assisted by Erin Strength), Strength (assisted by Cooper Linn), Linn assisted by Strength, and Linn assisting Conrad Clegg on the game winner. Goalie Dante Devitre saved 21 shots.

Durango lost the second game, but Brown scored twice while Blanchard and Milo Martin also found the back of the net. Linn, Martin and Brown assisted the team’s four goals. Preston Loughman made 12 saves in goal.

In the third game, Durango came out on a mission and closed out its weekend with a 5-2 victory. Strength scored a hat trick while Brown added to the goal count and also had an assist. Hunter Wildman finished with a playmaker. Loughman had 16 saves in goal, aided by some great defense from Indie Eaton.

This weekend, the 10U through 14U Ice Devils will compete in the Grizz Cup in Utah.