Eagle-Vail Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs and Battle Mountain all have their invitations to the big dance after Thursday's action. Now it's just a question of who's going where.
Palisade's 2-0 upset of Moffat County secured berths for the Sailors, Demons and Huskies, respectively. But Steamboat's 2-2 tie Thursday night left the postseason seeding up in the air.
In short, it was just another dull day in the 4A Western Slope. Rifle nearly threw all these scenarios asunder by leading Glenwood 1-0 with five minutes to play, but the Demons rallied for two goals and a 2-1 victory.
Going into Saturday's final regular-season games, Glenwood and Steamboat are tied with 19 points with 6-2-1 records. Glenwood holds the tiebreaker and will face Moffat County Saturday.
Steamboat, while playing Palisade, will be rooting for Moffat County. Moffat County and Steamboat wins Saturday would give Rob Bohlmann's crew another Slope title, but the Sailors coach figures Palisade will give his team a handful.
"The first time we played them, we had to come from behind from two-nil to win in overtime," he said. "So we certainly wouldn't be looking past them."
Meanwhile, Battle Mountain, 4-3-2 in the league, can celebrate its fifth straight trip to the postseason.
"It's great for our kids," Battle Mountain coach David Cope said. "We've improved our position one place from last year, which affirms what we thought earlier in the season. And that's that we have a better team than last year. Also, I think this team has a chance to go farther in the postseason than we have in the past."
Battle Mountain finishes the regular season at Rifle and will draw the No. 3 seed from the South Central League. As it sits now, that would be Alamosa on the road.
And if the playoffs are anything like Thursday night's game between Battle Mountain and Steamboat, it should be quite a ride.
The Huskies broke the seal at the two minute mark. Antonio Aparicio served the ball to J.D. Lemon. Lemon's first shot was blocked by Steamboat goalie Kelly Carlson. But the Huskies senior got the rebound, giving Battle Mountain an early 1-0 lead.
The Sailors didn't take long to respond. Just two minutes later, Mike Holland had the equalizer.
"That's a very positive thing we have going with this group this year," Bohlmann said. "They don't get down. That's the part of the game. Mistakes happen. They keep fighting for 80 minutes. That was a positive thing to see."
Both teams settled after the quick start and then it was Devin Borvansky in the 29th minute on a wicked shot from the left side. With that, Steamboat went into the intermission with a 2-1 lead. While Steamboat controlled the flow in the first half, the second half belonged to Battle Mountain.
Aparicio got his second assist of the game by causing chaos in front of Carlson and also feeding Sean Reynolds for the equalizer. Carlson rounded nicely with a fantastic save on Battle Mountain's Andy Banner. The senior goaltender was often tested in the final 20 minutes but never faltered, sending the game into overtime.
In the first five minutes, Steamboat nearly ended the game when Borvansky fired a bullet from the left side. Huskies keeper Beau Beckley got an arm on the shot and deflected it wide right. It was Battle Mountain's turn in the second OT. Banner had a shot from 10 yards out and was denied by Carlson.
"It was good game. You have to give both teams credit," Bohlmann said. "We had a little better run of the play in the first half. Battle Mountain played very well and had a good run of play in the second half. Then in the overtime, it was just back and forth. It was a hard-fought game by both teams."
"I thought we had chances to win the game," Cope said. "I told them in the end that I couldn't have been prouder the way they competed, the way they stayed together as a group, the way they had faith in the game plan and they way they supported each other. It was great."