Goalie Jeff Dawes stops a shot on goal during hockey practice at the Howelsen Ice Arena on Thursday afternoon.

Photo by Brian Ray

Goalie Jeff Dawes stops a shot on goal during hockey practice at the Howelsen Ice Arena on Thursday afternoon.

Sailors hockey ready for breakthrough game


— The Steamboat Springs High School hockey team feels about ready to explode.

A canceled game and a nine-day holiday break leaves the Sailors with only two chances in a month-long period to face off with an opponent.

Head coach Jeff Ruff has noticed the mounting sense of urgency that has translated into harder workouts and more focused practices.

"This is one of the best teams we've ever had in terms of how they come together," Ruff said. "They believe that they have to work within the framework and are buying into what we're teaching them to improve. The conditioning is about twice as much as last year and even off-ice, we'll meet every day outside the high school to condition or look at film."

Perhaps Steamboat's extra motivator is the uncommon string of four losses - all against legitimate title-contending teams - to kick off its season. Now, both Ruff and his players feel this "chomping at the bit" attitude will translate into a statement performance when Steamboat takes the ice against Pueblo County at 5:30 p.m. today at Pueblo Plaza Ice Arena.

"I'm feeling we're going to have one big game and feed off that all season," Steamboat senior goalkeeper Jeff Dawes said before Thursday's practice. "It's tough because the past two years, we've won the opening (King of the Mountains) tournament. It's a new thing for me and for the team to have to learn to lose early."

Ruff said the early adversity has brought the team together. Dawes said he's seen that translate into improvements with all the smaller details of play, from catching pucks to finishing checks.

The bigger issue facing Steamboat still is in offensive production - so far, the Sailors have been out-scored 17-5.

But after addressing the offense, and the power play in particular, this week, Dawes thought today's matchup with the 0-3 Pueblo County squad would be the perfect chance to set things straight.

"We'll get back in our groove. I've got a feeling (today)'s game will be a showing of what we can do," Dawes said.

Although the game is against a Peak Conference opponent, it will not count toward Steamboat's conference record, since the two teams face one another again Jan. 19 in Pueblo.


dogd 9 years, 4 months ago

The selection process for that high school team (I had no dog in the hunt) was very peculiar. Some head-scratcher descisions were made that seem to have been political or social in many cases. The result was an incredible Midget-major team made up of the ones who did not "qualify"for the high school team. The midget-major team just finished an undefeated 4-game road trip, and far from being o-fer, they are leading thier league.

I actually wonder which team would win a matchup. Maybe not the o-fers.


techno_babble 9 years, 4 months ago

Ah, but the newspaper only reports the high school team.

The current midget major team is 6 and 1 and also played a tournament the same weekend the high school team lost theirs. Not even a by-line in the paper. (They split two and two).

Last year, this team took 2nd place in the RMYHL - and not a note in the paper. Also last year several Steamboat players were selected to the Western SLope all star team and won a north vs south tournament and THEN played invitational games against west slope college teams.

dog - you are right about the selection process. And the high school coaches and staff are very arrogant with how they treat the SSYHA. They believe the SSYHA is a farm team.


NancyTerry 9 years, 4 months ago

My son played on both teams. Both provided plenty of highs and lows, dedicated coaches, exciting games. Every HS player has played SSYHA for years, and everyone I know feels fortunate that such a small town can support two teams, enabling more kids to play. The midget major and high school teams show up to watch each other's games..some years are better for one team than another but it's all Steamboat hockey.

And - thanks to EVERY coach on EVERY hockey team for giving so much time, effort and leadership to our kids!


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