Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Ten boys decided they were going to win when it would have been easy to give up.
The Steamboat Springs Midget Minor A team finished second at the Continental Divide Youth Hockey League Tournament on Feb. 16, despite having a roster of just 10, including two goalies.
Steamboat upset Fort Collins, 4-2, in the semifinal in Littleton to advance to the championship game against Aspen.
Aspen, the regular season CDYHL champion, beat Steamboat in the final.
Most hockey teams have four lines with five players each and rotate at least three lines in 45-second shifts. Steamboat's team, made up of boys ages 15 and 16, wasn't given that luxury at any point during the season.
"Most teams used their timeouts for strategy," team member Jon Reese said. "We used our timeouts to rest."
Gunde Schrock, the team captain, said he'd look up at the scoreboard and realize it was the end of the first period but it felt like the end of the third. But, Schrock added, the increased ice time helped each player mature and improve.
While the players on the Midget Minor team are high-school-age, few would have had the opportunity to be on the Steamboat Springs High School team's top two lines. By traveling throughout the state and competing at the A level against teams from the Front Range, however, they were exposed to a high level of play that should help them make next year's Sailors team.
"The team finished the way it did because of the boys," coach Bob Reese said. "It was their team and their game. It was their choice to do that well, and it paid off."
In the semifinal win against Fort Collins, Steamboat built a 3-2 lead off Reese's hat trick before the Junior Eagles pulled their goalie with less than two minutes left.
Steamboat's Alec Idoni scored an empty-netter in the final minute to preserve the win.
"We had a really good defensive game," Schrock said.
Goalie Randy Rule once again kept Steamboat in the contest on Feb. 16, Jon Reese said. Reese noted that Rule's play was one reason why Steamboat finished so high -- third -- in league play during the regular season.
The CDYHL was made up of seven teams from Colorado: Steamboat, Aspen, Fort Collins, Denver and three from Colorado Springs.
"We peaked at the tournament," Bob Reese said. "Our philosophy and strategy is that the games through the season, though nice to win, are just practice for the tournament at the end. That's where you need to do you best."