It felt as if the Aspen hockey team beat Steamboat Springs twice in Saturday's game.
The first blow came with 29 seconds left in the third period, when the Skiers tied the game after the Sailors failed to score an open-net goal.
The second punch, and ultimately the one that counted, came with 49 seconds left in overtime when Aspen capitalized on a Steamboat defensive breakdown to win 4-3.
Last year, the Skiers dominated the Sailors. And though Steamboat was less than 30 seconds from winning -- or less than 50 seconds from at least tying Aspen -- it mattered little to anyone in the home team's locker room.
"There is no consolation when you lose one like that," Sailors coach Dave Strang said.
Steamboat made a third-period drive highlighted by a two-minute stretch in which it tied the game and then took the lead with 10 minutes left.
Sophomore Tanner Grimes, off an assist from sophomore Sam Gary, scored Steamboat's game-tying goal and then, less than a minute later, stuck the puck through at close range to give his team the lead.
"We needed to start dumping and chasing," Grimes said. "If we get it deep and forecheck, we usually do well."
Grimes, one of only two sophomores on Steamboat's team, said the Sailors made some offensive adjustments between the second and third periods, helping lead to the two goals. The Sailors' defensive breakdowns late in the game, however, opened the door for Aspen.
Aspen coach Dennis Maruk pulled goalie JoJo Hernandez with less than two minutes in the third in a desperation move to score a goal.
Despite having the open net and the puck in its zone for nearly 30 seconds, Steamboat could not capitalize, missing wide on several shot attempts.
With a man advantage, Aspen skated down the ice and Skier Tad Norris got his own rebound and fired his second shot past Steamboat goalie Cooper Lee with 29 seconds left.
Both teams had opportunities to score early in overtime, but the Skiers were the first to capitalize in the sudden-death period, as the clock dipped under a minute. Tyler Doremus took the puck at center ice, as teammate Tyler Horn headed toward the win.
Leary, the lone Sailors defenseman back, had to tie up Doremus and the puck, but Doremus, with Leary stuck to him, managed to pass off to Horn before the Sailors could recover.
The league loss Saturday drops Steamboat to 6-3-1 overall and 3-1-1 in Mountain play.
Junior Chris Baumann had the Sailors' first goal Saturday. Junior Sam Spillane was credited with the assist.
Norris scored Aspen's first goal and Doremus scored Aspen's second goal early in the third. Jordan Friedland, Sean French, Horn and David Goldberg were given assists on the two goals.
Lee turned away 30 of Aspen's 34 shots, while Hernandez stopped 23 of Steamboat's 26 shots on goal.
The Sailors, who are still very much in the league race, return to the ice at 6:30 p.m. Friday for a league game against Coronado at Howelsen Ice Arena.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org