One mountain stands in the way of every other high school hockey team's hopes of a Colorado state title -- Battle Mountain.
The Huskies, based in the Vail area, skated to a 3-1 win Friday night at Howelsen Ice Arena, defeating the Steamboat Springs hockey team in the only regular season matchup between the rivals.
Every team has its weaknesses, Battle Mountain coach Jade Kersey said, though he did not reveal what he believes those to be. And without his assistance, it was tough to tell.
The Huskies are blessed with a tremendous amount of team speed and offensive prowess, but the Sailors more than held their own on the ice, particularly in the game's first period.
Steamboat, 6-2-1 overall, got on the scoreboard first when senior Chris Timmerman found the back of the net at the 8 minute, 13 second mark off an assist from senior Jamie Lokkesmoe.
The Sailors were on a line change, but Timmerman maintained control of the puck in Steamboat's zone, and as his teammates were joining him on the offensive end, Timmerman skated around several Huskies defenders and went high and stickside on Battle Mountain's goalie.
The Huskies answered Timmerman's goal with one of their own at the 2:01 mark off an unassisted shot from Max Miller.
"We came out and scored the first goal, and it was really what we wanted to do," Steamboat coach Dave Strang said. "They came right back, and it kind of took the wind out of our sails."
Steamboat goalie Cooper Lee confirmed that he stopped Miller's initial shot, but no whistle sounded and Miller slammed into Lee, knocking him backward and forcing the puck into the net to even the score.
Battle Mountain added one more goal in the second period and another in the third for the final two-goal margin of victory.
"We have to be honest with ourselves and play to our assets," Kersey said. "Our guys are creative offensively. They cycle the puck well, and with our speed and puck movement, it generates scores."
The Huskies' second goal -- off the stick of Nate Simon in the final two minutes of the second period -- came while both teams were playing a man down.
Jason Chase scored Battle Mountain's third goal while his team was on the power play early in the third. Austin Chow and Brad Myers were given assists.
Lee, who turned away 41 of the 44 shots on goal he faced, was clearly Steamboat's most outstanding player Friday night. After the game, he said it was easy to get up to play the Huskies, and though Battle Mountain seemingly scores at will, they don't run a complex offense at all.
"It's a simple offense called duck and chase," Lee said. "And then they cycle it."
Both Strang and Kersey believed Lee's play provided Steamboat a chance to walk off the ice with the upset, but there is no time for the Sailors to dwell on just their second loss of the season.
Aspen comes to town for a 1:15 p.m. game today, and the winner claims first in the Mountain league.
"The team understands (today) is the league game," Strang said.
Steamboat's game with Aspen can be heard on KRMR at 100.5 or 107.3 FM.