Thursday, January 15, 2004
Heading into its biggest weekend of the season, the Steamboat Springs hockey team had its best week of practice to date, coach Dave Strang said.
Steamboat, 6-1-1, hosts rival Battle Mountain in a nonleague game at 6:30 p.m. today before hosting league foe Aspen at 1:15 p.m. Saturday.
Both games are at Howelsen Ice Arena.
"We had good practices last week, but this one surpassed it all," Strang said.
The competitiveness and commitment Strang has seen this week, in addition to the stellar play he saw in the Sailors' lopsided wins last weekend, has Strang feeling better about the direction of the team heading into today's game.
"They competed real hard, and they had the drive to not only play but to go out and play at their potential -- to go out and dominate and take over a game and use all their tools," Strang said about Steamboat's 10-2 and 7-1 wins against Rampart and Wasson.
Battle Mountain is 9-1 overall and 3-0 in Metro League play. The Huskies only loss was to Kent Denver on Dec. 12. Battle Mountain, the popular pick to win this year's state title, has scored at least four goals in its other nine games, while shutting out its opponents four times.
Aspen, meanwhile, has lost to Battle Mountain twice by a combined score of 3-13, but the Skiers, 8-3, are still one of the teams to beat in the Mountain League.
"They are comparable in size and talent," Strang said of Aspen and Battle Mountain. "They aren't extraordinarily large teams, but they have a lot of talented players. They have natural goal scorers. Each team has three or four guys (who), given the opportunity to score, will score."
But, Strang continued, a few Steamboat players who had been absent on the offensive radar emerged as potential scoring threats during the weekend.
"We're hoping that because they've had so much easy success, for the most part, that their defensive play and systems haven't been tested," Strang said. "We are going to try and soften up their defensemen with a real heavy forecheck and capitalize on our opportunities."
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