Steamboat Springs Derek Rule's job as appointed captain is to serve as a leader for the Steamboat Springs Midget Major team.
Of course, it doesn't hurt when he scores either, but Rule's two goals were not enough as Steamboat opened the Rocky Mountain Rumble Tournament with a 5-3 loss to Summit Friday afternoon.
Trailing by one goal with less than two minutes remaining, Steamboat coaches pulled goalie Peter Van Schaack.
The extra attacker proved useless as Summit's Nick Shult found the back of the empty net with 53 seconds to go, pushing his team's lead back to a comfortable two. Following the goal, Steamboat was issued an unsportsmanlike penalty, allowing Summit to finish the contest on a power play.
To Steamboat's credit, it made a game out of what had the makings to be an ugly one early on.
Summit used an entire 12 seconds to score the first goal of the contest and followed that score with another just more than a minute later, establishing a quick 2-0 lead.
Shult and Matt Iacovetto were credited with the goals, while Mark Mahan and Corey Joyce picked up the assists.
Iacovetto, an Oak Creek native, was part of Summit's team, along with other kids from Oak Creek and Kremmling.
Steamboat added a goal, in what turned out to be an offensive first period, at the 10:36-mark off Jameson Allee's score. Hunter Levingston was given the assist.
Summit's Dylan Knudsen responded several minutes later, stealing the puck directly in front of Steamboat's net, firing a quick unassisted shot past Van Schaack.
Steamboat had a chance to dent its two-goal deficit on a power play with just more than six minutes left in the first, but the home team failed to take advantage, managing just one shot on goal in two minutes.
Jake Flax had two good looks for Steamboat in the closing minute, but Summit goalie Avery Terre turned away both attempts. The second shot bounced away from Terre, and Knudsen was able to take advantage, skating by the Steamboat defense and scoring the final first-period goal with 22 seconds to go. Teammate Aaron Corparan delivered the assist.
The defenses and goalies tightened up in the second period as no one found the net on a combined 15 shots. Terre made 10 saves in the second period, while Van Schaack stopped all five of Summit's shots on goal.
Then Steamboat, which coach Darrel Levingston said "doesn't like to lose," woke up.
Trailing by three, Steamboat's offense got a little more organized and opportunistic at the 11:38-mark when Rule scored off a rebound.
Danny Weiss took the original shot, and he, along with teammate Jack O'Brien, were credited with the assists.
Steamboat inched even closer with just less than four minutes remaining. After two great saves from Van Schaack on two hard Summit slap shots, David Packert delivered a perfect pass across the ice to Daniel Barney, who promptly centered the puck. Rule planted it in the back of the net, brining Steamboat within one.
It was as close as the home team got, losing by two.
Following the game, Rule said Steamboat wasn't ready to play at the opening faceoff, believing the mixture of players on Summit's team would work to the visiting team's disadvantage.
"I think everybody thought it was going to be a cakewalk," Rule said.
He added that two periods quickly disproved that Steamboat notion.
"I think part of it was that this tournament doesn't count for league standings," Levingston said. "This is for fun. The thing is, in the third period, they still had fun."
And played much better.
The Rocky Mountain Rumble Tournament continues today at Howelsen Ice Arena.
The Bantam division opens the tournament at 7:30 a.m. when Steamboat takes the ice against the University of Denver. The Midget team takes the ice at 1:30 p.m.
The tournament wraps up on Sunday.