Thursday, February 20, 2003
Steamboat Springs The Weston Oil squirt hockey team came within one goal of winning a tournament in Fort Collins Feb. 17, but had its title hopes dashed by Pueblo's last-minute goal in the championship game.
The Steamboat traveling team, coached by George Bennett, Terry Ostrom and Yens Owen, topped teams from Fort Collins and Summit en route to the championship contest. But the squirts couldn't get past Pueblo in the finale as the southern Colorado team won the game 3-2.
"It was a bummer," Bennett said. "It was one of those games where we did everything right, but we couldn't get the puck in the back of the net."
Pueblo scored with a little more than 2 minutes remaining in the championship contest to earn the tournament title.
"Our team played with a lot of heart and all of our players proved they are winners," Bennett said of the team.
While the team was disappointed with the result of the final game of the holiday weekend, the coach said it was a positive experience for the local players.
Alex Bennett had a hat trick in the opening contest on Feb. 15 against Fort Collins. Regan Walton and Conner Birch both added goals in the 5-2 win.
Steamboat fell to Pueblo in the second game that day, 3-0.
But on Feb. 16, the local team rebounded with a huge 6-5 win over Summit. Kaelen Gunderson scored four goals to lead the Steamboat team. Birch and Lance Ostrom also scored in the game.
The victory set up the rematch with the Pueblo team in the championship, which was played on Feb. 17.
Bennett is hoping the strong showing at the tournament will carry over to this Sunday, when the Steamboat team faces Vail in a contest that will determine whether the team advances to the state playoffs or hangs up its skates for the season.
If Steamboat wins the game, the team will represent the Continental Divide Youth Hockey League in the state tournament, which is scheduled to take place in Colorado Springs the first weekend of March.
"If we win it will be great," Bennett said. 'If we don't we will move on to other things."