The Steamboat Springs hockey team is poised to make noise and the Sailors coaches and players know it, assistant Jeff Ruff said.
Steamboat dropped two league games over the weekend to Regis and Cheyenne Mountain, but the Sailors have not been blown out this year. Ruff said the lessons Steamboat continues to learn against top-flight opponents such as Aspen, Battle Mountain, Regis and Cheyenne Mountain will pay off as the postseason approaches.
"There is always disappointment when you don't win, but there was no despair on the way home," Ruff said of the return trip from Colorado Springs. "We know we can play with all these teams. (The Sailors) are starting to see what it's going to take, and they are starting to see it's not much."
Steamboat (7-6 overall, 4-4 in league) has not lost to any team by more than two goals, which some of the other top teams in the state cannot say. What the Sailors need to improve upon is paying better attention to the little things, especially against quality opponents, Ruff said.
That fact was evident in Steamboat's most recent game, a 4-3 loss to Cheyenne Mountain on Saturday. The Sailors played 42 minutes of great hockey, Ruff said, but the three minutes their focus waned cost them the game.
Steamboat's three goals against Cheyenne Mountain came from three different lines, including the recently put together line of senior Tucker Greene and juniors Ryan Brees and Dillon Dennis.
Sophomore Sam Gary scored the game's first goal 12 minutes and 52 seconds into the first period off Nate Coram's assist. Senior Phil Bush added the second off assists from senior Chris Timmerman and junior Chris Baumann. Greene got the third score off passes from Brees and Dennis.
"The game against Cheyenne Mountain was a great game on both sides," Ruff said. "We got scoring from three different lines, which we've been needing to see against a good team."
Senior goalie Cooper Lee stopped 34 of 38 shots on goal. Steamboat had 27 shots on goal, a major improvement from the 3-1 loss to Regis on Friday.
"We hit the post twice and didn't capitalize on some of our golden opportunities," Ruff said of the Regis game. "Regis is a very big team that likes to hit, and I think it actually threw some of our guys off when they were hitting us more than we were hitting them."
Bush scored the game's lone goal for the Sailors midway through the third period, pulling Steamboat to within two goals. Junior Sam Spillane notched the assist. Lee turned away 26 shots on goal.
Steamboat returns to action this weekend with a 5 p.m. Friday game against Wasson and an 11:30 a.m. Saturday game against Coronado. Both games are in Colorado Springs.
The Sailors outscored both teams a combined 12-3 earlier this season.
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