In Curtis Nelson's words, the Steamboat Springs hockey team hadn't "really put it to a team" this season.
Then came Friday night.
Steamboat defeated Rampart, 10-2, at Howelsen Ice Arena, scoring with apparent ease from nearly every angle on the ice to pick up the league win.
"We definitely wanted to make a statement," Nelson said.
Though the season is nearly 1 month old, Steamboat's first real week of practice came in the days leading up to Friday's win, senior Taylor Leary said.
The Sailors now have set their set lines, grown accustomed to each other and each other's tendencies and spent the week working hard on coach Dave Strang's systems, Leary said.
"We came out strong and put the puck in the net," Leary said. "Ten goals is always a great thing."
After the win, Strang said Steamboat's effort Friday was easily the best three periods of hockey the team has played all season.
Though Rampart is not the strongest team on Steamboat's schedule, there is still some level of satisfaction that comes from dominating a team for 45 minutes. The Sailors scored two goals at full strength, but more impressively scored four goals on the power play and four more when they were shorthanded.
"We spent a lot of time in practice working on forechecking and our neutral-zone play," Strang said. "The shorthanded goals were a direct result of that. We softened their defensemen up and patiently waited for the opportunities to score."
Nine players scored for Steamboat on Friday, led by senior Phil Bush's two goals. Ten Sailors recorded assists. Senior Chris Timmerman had three assists, while juniors Clay McKenzie and Nate Coram each had two.
Steamboat had 17 shots on goal in the first period alone, drilling the puck at Rampart goalie Matt Fullerton. The Sailors got on the board first at the 9 minute, 22 second mark off senior Casey Earp's power play goal. McKenzie and Nelson helped out with the assists.
The Sailors won the subsequent faceoff at center ice and promptly scored 14 seconds later when McKenzie, a defenseman, found the back of the net. Coram and sophomore Sam Gary were credited with assists.
Steamboat added its final first-period goal at the 7:04 mark, taking advantage of the power play opportunity when McKenzie and junior Dillon Dennis worked the puck to an open Timmerman in front of the net for the easy score.
Rampart opened the second period a man down, and Steamboat took advantage, scoring in the period's first 11 seconds. Timmerman and junior Brad Bonner found Bush for the first of his two scores Friday.
Leary, a defenseman, fired a hard slapshot from the blue line at the 10:05 mark for the first of Steamboat's four shorthanded goals. Senior Matt Legrice was given the assist.
The only mistakes the Sailors made Friday came at 8:33 and 2:45 in the second when the Rams scored two power play goals.
But Steamboat added three more goals in the second to more than make up the difference. Senior Jamison Allee, sophomore Tanner Grimes and Nelson scored the goals, while Bush, Coram, Timmerman and junior Chris Baumann were all credited with assists on the three goals.
For the game, Steamboat had 40 shots on goal, scoring on 10 of them. Rampart had just 28 shots on goal, with 16 of those coming in the second period when the Rams did all their offensive damage on the power play.
Colorado high school rules call for a running clock in the third period if a team is leading by six or more goals, so the final period went quickly with the Sailors up 8-2.
Steamboat added its final two goals early in the third when Bush and junior Ryan Brees scored shorthanded. Timmerman and Bonner had the assists.
The Sailors improve to 5-1-1 overall and 2-0-1 in the Mountain League with Friday's win. Steamboat returns to action at 1:30 p.m. today at Howelsen Ice Arena against league opponent Wasson.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org