Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs Sailors hockey team will visit Denver Friday hoping to extend its latest winning streak to three games and improve its league record in the process.
Steamboat is 3-1 overall and 2-0 in league contests. Meanwhile, the Regis Jesuit hockey team will enter the game hoping to end a four-game losing skid with the help of the hometown fans.
But only one of the teams can leave the ice happy. The game begins at 6 p.m.
"This will be a really good test for our team," Steamboat coach Dave Strang said. "Regis beat Battle Mountain (the only team Steamboat lost to this season) and lost a tough 3-2 game to Aspen (last weekend). They are a very good team and should be ready to play this Friday."
The Regis Raiders won their first two games of the season but have since fallen into a four-game slide, giving them a less-than-impressive 2-4 record. The last time Regis won a game was Dec. 6.
But Strang said the Raiders' recent run of bad results isn't going to taint what the Steamboat players are expecting from Friday night's game in Denver. In fact, the coach includes Regis, Battle Mountain, Aspen and Cheyenne Mountain on his list of teams to beat this season.
"It's going to be one of the toughest games of the season," Steamboat senior Jeff Franks said. "We've never played this team before, but Cooper (Lee) played with (Battle Mountain) last year and he has filled us in on what to expect."
Franks and his teammates are hoping to chalk up a win over Regis to open the weekend on a high note before returning home with a busload of confidence they can use against Machebeuf Saturday.
The game against Machebeuf is the second home game of the local high school program's brief history. That game will be played at 3:45 p.m. Saturday at Howelsen Ice Arena.
"We love playing at home in front of our crowd," Franks said. "Everybody is pretty pumped about getting back home."
Franks supplied three goals last weekend as Steamboat skated past Rampart 3-0 in its first game since Dec. 20, the night before the high school let out for a 12-day break. The team returned to practice Jan. 2.
"We couldn't get on the ice as a team over the holidays," Franks said. "We tried to book some ice time, but it was completely full. We even tried to get on the ice in Craig, but we couldn't."
To stay in shape, Franks said he ran a lot and took advantage of public skates at the Howelsen rink.
He felt as if the extra work paid off for him in last Saturday's game.
"Everybody was in pretty good shape," Franks said. "It took us a period to get things rolling again, but after that, everything seemed to come together."
Franks scored once in the first period and twice in the third period for a hat trick. Chris Timmerman had two assists and John Bowers had another.
While Franks was putting up the offensive numbers in the game, Strang said the Sailors continued to play solid defense as well. Rampart fired 15 shots on Lee in the game, but Strang said his goalkeeper was never really tested in the contest.
"We only gave up a couple of scoring opportunities," Strang said. "Our offensive players did a great job with the back check and our defensive players didn't allow Rampart to make quality shots on goal."
Lee didn't let any of the Regis team's shots get past him in the net.
Strang said he would continue to stress defense this week in practice and also have the teamwork on the power play.