Sailors skate to tie with Denver

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— Steamboat Springs hockey coach Jeff Ruff called Wednesday's game against Kent Denver a good wake-up call.

Leading, 5-2, after two periods, the Sailors played a sloppy third period to come away with a disappointing 5-5 tie.

"They realize they have to play three periods," Ruff said. "One of these good teams like Kent Denver is not going to give up just because we're ahead."

Ruff said that after playing a solid first period in which the Sailors headed to the locker room up, 1-0, thanks to a Greg Ingalls goal, Steamboat came out in the second period and showed why it's regarded as one of the best in the state.

Jim Terry, Grant Ehrick, Jake Stanford and Alex Palaniuk all scored second-period goals to give the Sailors a 5-2 lead heading into the third period.

"We challenged our guys," Ruff said. "Kent is a proud and excellent team. We didn't come out as hard in the third and we let down a little bit."

Ruff said Kent's first goal in the third period came on a short-handed goal. Then the Sailors (7-1-2, 3-1 in conference play) found themselves in the penalty box, allowing the Sun Devils to get back into the game.

The game went to overtime, but neither team scored.

"I think they'll respond from it," Ruff said about the tie that should have been a win. "You hate to lose a lead, but tying one of the top teams in the state isn't all bad."

After Steamboat outscored its three previous opponents, 23-3, Kent Denver - a non-conference opponent - provided the Sailors with their first real competition since the holiday break.

Still, Ruff said his team has to put together three full periods if it wants to continue its winning ways.

"We'll use it as a springboard," Ruff said. "Kent is one of the top teams in the state. We're happy with a tie, but again, we're working on playing three solid periods of hockey."

But the news gets better for the Sailors. After playing for more than a month on the road, Steamboat returns home Friday to play Lewis-Palmer at 6:30 p.m. at Howelsen Ice Arena.

Ruff said the friendly confines will be a nice change.

"We're really excited about playing at home on Friday night," he said. "We have another tough adversary with Lewis-Palmer, but I expect the guys to play 100 percent shift-in and shift-out."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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