Hockey rivalries are incredibility intense. You may recall the bitter feelings that existed between the NHL's Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings in the late 1990's. Both teams had Stanley Cup talent and world class toughness. Detroit and Colorado; the teams, the coaches and the fans all hated each other. The result; a full-scale melees on ice, body crunching hits, goalie brawls, McCarty vs. Lemieux and some of the most exciting hockey games known to man.
Click 4 pix: Aspen vs. Detroit
The years have passed. The hockey unpleasantries between Colorado and Detroit have softened. But now, a new, more friendly rivalry has formed. Aspen vs. Detroit. The two hockey power-houses met again during the 12th Annual WELLS FARGO STIRLING CUP ALL-STAR WEEKEND in memory of Stirling Cooper. The Detroit RedWings Alumni (Oldtimers) vs. The Aspen Leafs, they went at it. They faced off again in 2012 at the Aspen Recreation Center in front of a full house.
Last year, the Aspen Leafs smoked the Wings pretty handily, welcoming them to A-Town with a 7-4 loss. In fact, Aspen has taken it to the Red Wings old timers in 3 of the last 4 years at Stirling Cup. The Red Wings always hold their own in the golf, and usually win the party...but on the ice, at 8,000 ft...the Leafs have been the recent champs. This year Detroit powered up and brought a few younger guys on the trip. Reading the body language on the Red Wings bench during warm ups. (where I handled the door with skill), you could see the steely eyed demeanor of the visiting team. They wanted to win. Jiri Fischer (6' 5" 235, 32 years old) a former top NHL defenseman who retired pre-maturely due to a heart problem buoyed the blue line for the Wings. New recruits Stephen Guolla (4 NHL Teams), Keith McKittrick (Red Wings Assistant Coach) and Kip Miller (Hobey Baker winner at Michigan State and 8 NHL teams) added speed and skill to the forward line.
The Aspen team led by Aspen Junior Hockey Director, Tanner Williams, AJH President Lindsey Holmbeck, All-Stars Geoff Lubin, Keith Howie, Bret Norris and goalie Jason Flynn were feeling good prior to the opening faceoff. Former Detroit BAD BOY Darren McCarty set the tone early scoring on a goal-mouth scramble in the first minute of play. He also dinged the goalie on the mask with a flick shot, and admitted "I was aiming for his throat, just kidding". Former Wings stars John Ogrodnick, Joey Kocur, Paul Mackinnon, Jon Finstrom, Lorne Knauft and Wayne Presley played a strong game in front of the stellar goal-tending of George Bowman. The Red Wings proceded to pour it on taking the contest by a final score of 12-3.
Rivalries aside, The Stirling Cup is always a blast. Parties, camaraderie, golf and more. All of it is designed to honor the memory of Stirling Cooper and PROMOTE YOUTH SPORTS, FOSTER NEW RELATIONSHIPS and EMBODY COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT. Aspen Junior Hockey and the entire community of rink rats always rolls out the red carpet for the entire weekend. Stirling Cup is always one of the best events of the year in Aspen. The hockey community in Aspen is tightly knit and the Red Wings truly appreciate the hospitality. What's not to love. Just ask all the mites, squirts and pee-wees (and their parents) who get to meet, skate with and make friends with real live NHL stars.
Click for Pix: Aspen vs. Detroit: The Greatest Rivalry in Hockey.