Sailors split road games

Hockey team beats Air Academy, falls to Pine Creek

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The good news is that the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team avenged its only loss of the season Friday, defeating defending state champion Air Academy.

The bad news is that the Sailors have another loss to avenge after Saturday's overtime setback to Pine Creek in Colorado Springs.

Assistant coach Jeff Ruff said the coaches and players sat down to discuss season goals when they returned from the weekend trip.

"The sky is not falling," Ruff said. "We told them we need to make some changes. If everyone is committed to these changes, then we will be successful. Everyone is on the same page again."

Steamboat started the two-game swing with a 4-2 win against Air Academy on Friday at Sertich Ice Arena in Colo--rado Springs. The Kadets defeated the Sailors, 1-0, on Jan. 6.

"Anytime you beat the defending state champions, no matter what changes were made in their program, you still look at that and say that's a big win for us," Ruff said. "We felt we had played well here and did not come away with the win."

On Friday, Steamboat had 23 shots on goal, doing most of its damage in the first two periods. Steamboat senior Jacob Pearson scored the first goal five minutes into the game off an assist from freshman Matthew Lettunich and sophomore Jake Stanford.

Air Academy tied the game at the 6-minute, 52-second mark, but Pearson scored his second goal off another assist from Stanford with 4:02 remaining in the first period. Sophomore Michael Weston scored Steamboat's third goal in the first period with 3:35 left. Pearson and Stanford were credited with assists.

The Kadets pulled to within one goal early in the second period. The score remained 3-2 in favor of the Sailors for the rest of the second period and most of the third. Air Academy pulled its goalie with one minute remaining, and senior Jon Reese scored an empty-net goal off an assist from senior Sam Gary.

The Kadets outshot the Sailors, 25-23, but Sailors goalie sophomore Jeff Dawes stopped 23 shots.

On Saturday, Pine Creek came out fast, scoring two goals in the first period. Steamboat evened the score with goals from Gary and Pearson. Sophomore Cam Fritz, Stanford and freshman Grant Ehrick were given assists.

Steamboat started with the puck in overtime and spent three minutes in its offensive zone but could not score. The Eagles fired one shot on goal and won, 3-2.

"The Pine Creek game was a disappointment," Ruff said. "We had trouble getting good rebounds and getting good opportunities in front of the net."

With just one loss heading into the Pine Creek game, Steamboat had established itself as one of the best teams in Colorado. With that comes a target and the knowledge every opponent will give Steamboat its best shot.

"That was hammered home on Saturday," Ruff said. "It was pretty evident. We are always going to get everyone's best shot. There is no relaxing."

The Sailors (8-2 overall, 2-2 in the Foothills League) are back in the rink this week and working on new wrinkles in their offense to counter the forechecks they are seeing from opposing teams.

They return to the ice at 8 p.m. Friday for a game against Colorado Academy at Edge Arena in the Denver area. Steamboat plays Doherty at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Honnen in Colorado Springs.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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