Steamboat Springs Chris Timmerman and Phil Bush combined for two goals during an overtime shoot-out period Sunday, as the Steamboat Bantam Braves defeated Casper, 4-3, for the Ski Town USA Hockey championship.
The Bantam Braves, who were 4-0 at the hockey tourney, received an outstanding performance from goalie Tim Higbee, who turned away six shots in three overtime periods to lead Steamboat to the title.
The Bantams were the only Steamboat team in the tourney to capture a first-place trophy.
The Midget Braves placed second in their division and the local Peewees were third.
"I think we came very, very focused and I think we came together as a team," said Matt LeGrice, who scored the Bantam Braves' third goal of the game against Casper. "It feels good to be the first-place team."
LeGrice scored with 59 seconds remaining in the second period on an assist from Timmerman that put the Bantam Braves on top, 3-2.
With 2:54 left in regulation, Casper's Eric Bowman netted a goal that tied the score, 3-3.
The game would go into overtime, though neither team managed to score in the extra period.
Steamboat and Casper then fought through a second overtime, but a tough defense on both sides forced a shoot-out.
A shoot-out results when a game is still tied after two five-minute overtime periods. Both coaches select five of their players to alternate taking penalty shots against the opposing goalie.
Each player gets only one shot opportunity. The team that compiles the most goals during the shoot-out is declared the winner.
The Bantam Braves made two goals during the shoot-out and Casper missed all of its shots, which left Steamboat as champions.
Higbee ended the game with 20 saves and Timmerman and Casey Earp each scored in regulation.
"I'm very pleased with the way the season ended," said Kent Foster, Bantam Braves head coach.
"It's been a good year for everybody."
The Bantam Braves won their conference this year and made it to the state championship game, where they fell to Littleton in double overtime.
John Seymour, Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association director of coaching, said the local fans who attended the fifth annual Ski Town USA Hockey Festival helped make it a success.
"It's probably our most
successful tournament ever," Seymour said.
"I thought the games were very good and the fan behavior was good, too."
The Midget Braves lost to North Dakota in the midget championship game Sunday, 5-1.
In the Peewee consolation game, the Peewee Braves topped Hyland Hills, 6-2.
Jake Stanford, who plays for the Peewee Braves, said his team came out sharp against Hyland Hills, considering the game started at 6 a.m. Sunday.
"Usually, we're used to it," Stanford said. "Every Friday morning we practice at 5:30 a.m.
"Last night, though, it was a little harder because of daylight-saving time. But I think we did really, really well for our last game of the year."