The Steamboat Springs hockey team wrapped up the regular season Saturday with a 6-0 win against Doherty, sending the Sailors into the playoffs with some late-season momentum.
Steamboat is the No. 11 seed and opens against No. 6 seed Bishop Machebeuf at 7:15 p.m. Friday in Aspen. The winner likely will face host Aspen at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Aspen is the No. 3 seed and opens against Summit, the No. 14 seed.
Steamboat has won two of its past three games, and the loss was a one-goal setback to Air Academy, one of the state's top two teams, on Friday.
"We came out real fired up because we had played very, very well against Air Academy," assistant Jeff Ruff said of the Sailors' start against Doherty. "We caught them off guard and scored two goals and played reasonably well in the first period. In the middle of the first, we played a little more individualistic than (head coach) Dave (Strang) and I like. We went into the locker room at the end of the first and pointed out that our systems and working together has brought us this far."
Steamboat responded in the second and third periods, extending its two-goal lead to 6-0 by the end of the game. The Sailors scored their first two goals one minute into the first period from junior Sam Gary and senior Brad Bonner. Senior Nate Coram got the assist on Gary's first goal.
Junior Jon Reese scored Steamboat's third goal at the 9:21 mark of the second. Gary put his second goal into the back of the net six minutes later off an assist from senior Daniel Coloccia.
An unfortunate accident occurred shortly thereafter when a player from Doherty tripped over another player and went hard into the boards, forcing an ambulance to be called to Howelsen Ice Arena. The delay took 30 minutes, and Ruff said it appeared as if the player had hurt his hip.
Steamboat used the delay to regroup and came out and scored two more goals in the third period. Senior Chris Baumann and junior Tanner Grimes had the two Sailors goals. Coram got his second assist of the day on Grimes' goal.
Freshman Jeff Dawes turned away all 22 shots he faced to get the win in net for Steamboat. The Sailors had 24 shots on goal, scoring on six of them.
"We were moving the puck more than shooting," Ruff said. "Our team works better when we move the puck and execute the plays we work on. One of our goals was to play at the level from the night before."
Steamboat will need to be at its best against Bishop Machebeuf on Friday. The Buffaloes fared well in the Metro League, but the Metro isn't as tough a league as the Foothills League in which Steamboat played.
Machebeuf lost handily to Battle Mountain twice this season and skated to a 1-1 tie against Liberty. Steamboat nearly beat Battle Mountain, the state's top seed, and defeated Liberty twice.
"We are real happy with the seed we got," Ruff said. "Having no tape, we are sticking to the way our team plays best and this is moving the puck. Our defense is very strong right now. Where their shots have been limited, they've done poorly. We're counting on our defense to keep them out of our zone."
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org