Almost perfect

Midgets just miss undefeated season

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— If not for a red-hot team from Laramie, the members of the Steamboat Springs midget minor hockey team might have put the finishing touches on a perfect season last weekend in Wyoming.

But the fourth-seeded hometown team had other ideas during last weekend's Continental Divide Youth Hockey League end of season tournament.

Laramie not only upset the top-seeded Steamboat team in the first round 6-1, but also went on to down the No. 2 seed Aspen in the second round in a 4-2 game.

The Cinderella run wouldn't end, as the Laramie team skated to the tournament title in the Continental Youth Hockey League leaving both the Steamboat and Aspen teams sitting on the bench for this weekend's Federation Cup, which will be played in Colorado Springs.

Laramie will represent the CDYHL in the tournament, which is the equivalent of a state championship for club teams, when it faces Littleton on Saturday for all the marbles. Littleton will represent the Colorado Competitive Youth Hockey Association.

However, despite the loss, the news in Laramie wasn't completely bad for the Steamboat traveling team.

Just before the end-of-season tournament started Steamboat learned they had slipped past Aspen to post the best regular season record at 11-2-1.

Unfortunately, the news didn't spark the Steamboat squad to its best performance of the season.

"We were flat, and that's all there was to it," coach Pete Arnold said.

Steamboat's Dillon Dennis scored the only Steamboat goal in the opening-round loss to Laramie. Arnold said it wasn't a typical showing for his team, and attributed it to the long drive.

In the second round, Steamboat rebounded with a 6-1 win over the midgets from the Southern Colorado Youth Hockey Association.

Ryan Brees recorded the hat trick in that game. Dennis, Justin Baker and Todd Mistr also scored goals. Nate Coram, Tucker Smalley and Dennis all provided assists.

The final game of the weekend was a battle from start to finish with Steamboat coming out on the wrong side of a 2-1 overtime thriller against Aspen. Tanner Grimes had the only Steamboat goal.

"I'm sure our players were pretty disappointed with the tournament, but we had a great season," Arnold said.

The coach said his team came out of the blocks a little slow in the opening game of the tournament against Laramie.

He said most of the players drove to Laramie the morning of the game. He said it's very hard to play hockey after sitting three hours in a car.

If he had it to do over, he said he might have required his players to go down the night before the game.

"I'm a first-year coach and I made a couple of rookie coaching mistakes," Arnold said. "Hopefully I will learn from them and us it next year."

But the coach wasn't taking anything away from a very strong Laramie team that was ready to play in the opener.

Arnold said Laramie is skating in a brand new facility and it is in the process of building one of the top programs in the region.

"They've come a long way since the start of this season and that's a program to watch in the future," Arnold said.

Arnold also cited the play of goalkeeper Randy Rule for the Steamboat team's success this season.

In the game against Laramie, Rule stopped 43 of 49 shots on goal, a personal best.

During the weekend, Rule faced 105 shots on goal in three games and only let nine into the back of the net.

"He was our most valuable player, hands down," Arnold said. "He kept us in most games this season."

Arnold is hoping that Rule will stay on the traveling midget team next year, but expects him, along with five or six other players, to move up to the high school team.

"We will just have to wait until next year to see what happens," Arnold said.

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