Hockey team shuts out Rampart

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— Frustrated by a two-game losing streak, the Steamboat Springs Sailors hockey team needed a confidence booster.

That boost came in the form of league opponent Rampart, which Steamboat shut out 4-0 Friday night at Howelsen Ice Arena.

Steamboat outskated, outshot and outhustled an inferior Rampart team to improve its overall record to 4-3 and its league record to 2-1.

"We definitely came out and played with more skill than the other team," coach Dave Strang said. "We played as a team really well."

Senior forward Casey Earp's wrist shot beat Rampart goalie Tyler Snell to break a scoreless tie with just 53 seconds remaining in the first period. Earp's unassisted goal was set up by a nifty move across the blue line to beat a Rampart defender.

"I saw a little hole and I made a move at him," Earp said. "It was pretty much a blind shot."

Steamboat outshot Rampart 12-7 in the first period and 39-23 overall.

A little more than one minute into the second period, senior forward Jeff Franks pushed the score to 2-0 after his nice move across the crease and wrist shot beat Snell to his stick side.

Less than a minute later, junior forward Curtis Nelson broke the game open when he knocked a loose puck past Snell. Sophomore defenseman Brad Bonner assisted on the goal.

Rampart's best scoring opportunity came midway through the second period when two Sailors penalties gave the Rams a 5-on-3 advantage for almost a minute. But goalie Cooper Lee, who stopped all 23 shots fired at him, and the Sailors defense shut down the Rams.

Perhaps the best story of the night came at 2:36 of the third period, when Sailors junior forward Tucker Greene took a nice pass from Trask Donaldson and flicked a wrist shot past Snell to finish the game's scoring. Burt VerHarr also assisted on the goal.

It was Greene's first shift since recovering from a broken foot that kept him out of action for six weeks.

"It's moments like that you're just glad to play in the game," Greene said. "Since the day I broke (my foot), I just wanted to get out there and play."

Rampart's frustration boiled over toward the end of the game, when a barrage of penalties against both teams, including two game misconducts, slowed the action.

Franks received one of those game misconducts and may be suspended from play depending on state rules, Strang said.

Otherwise, it was an impressive effort by Steamboat, which faces Coronado at 1:15 p.m. today at Howelsen Ice Arena.

"I'm real proud of the guys," Strang said. "They made the adjustments we talked about in practice."

"We really came out and showed the rest of the league we can handle whatever they throw at us," Earp said.

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