Steamboat Springs A season-long goal became a reality Sunday for the members of the Steamboat Storm women's hockey team.
They celebrated by hoisting the silver trophy awarded to the state champion women's B2 team over their heads as they skated around the rink in front of the hometown fans at Howelsen Ice Arena.
"It's just like winning the Stanley Cup, but not quite," Storm wing Susie Leeson said.
Leeson netted the game-winning goal midway through the third period of the championship game against Aspen in the Women's Association of Colorado Hockey State Tournament. The Steamboat team added another goal with a couple of minutes remaining to increase the margin of victory to 4-2.
"I think we all hoped that we would win the title," defensive player Lisa Owen said. "I think we all thought that we would face Colorado Springs in that game, but Aspen had a great tournament and it was a great championship game."
The Storm jumped out early in the final.
Scores by Katherine Hartley and Leeson gave the Steamboat team a 2-0 lead that stood through most of the first two periods of play. Aspen's Clara Coleman sparked an Aspen rally, however, with just under 3 minutes to play in the second.
She took a pass from teammate Melissa Roth and pushed a shot past Steamboat goalkeeper Marie Dailey to make the score 2-1. But it wouldn't be the last time Coleman and Roth would team up in the game.
Just minutes into the third, Coleman fed Roth a nice pass. Roth fired the shot into the back of the net and with less than a period left to play the game was knotted at 2 goals for each team.
"It was a total team effort. We knew we needed to put the puck in the back of the net and everybody participated," Leeson said.
The Storm's big break came when Julie Worden fed Leeson a pass at the top of the slot. Leeson said she was wide open and just fired the puck at the front of the net.
"It was a great pass," Leeson said.
The shot slipped past Aspen keeper Sue Jackson and with 9 minutes left on the game clock. From there, the Storm held the lead.
"Our coaches told us not to let down," Leeson said. "We didn't."
Hartley scored an insurance goal with 1:05 left to give the local team a little cushion in the final minute.
Dailey stopped 14 Aspen shots in the game as the Storm's defense, which includes Kim Bonner, Tara Nultemeier, Owen, Lisa Wilkinson and Marie Winter, only allowed 16 total shots on goal.
The Storm advanced to the championship game of the state tournament, which was held at the Howelsen Ice Arena last weekend, by beating Aspen 6-1 Friday night.
On Saturday, the Storm moved past Breckenridge 7-0 on the final pool play game. Steamboat's Melrose Kuusinen, Anderson, Worden, Leeson, Winter, Kim Bonner and Terry Doherty all scored goals in the game.
The Storm also knocked off Vail's Twin Peaks 3-0 in the semifinals. Diane Anderson scored twice in that game and Deb Rose scored once. Doherty and Nultemeier both had assists.
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