Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs hockey coach Herald Stout couldn't have asked for any more from the players on his U-12 girls hockey team.
With the squad's post-season life on the line, the Steamboat Springs team played some of its best hockey of the season, picking up four wins in two days and securing one of four spot in the Mountain States Girls Hockey League's state tournament, which is scheduled March 16 to 18 in Arvada.
"Headed into last weekend we needed to win about half of our games to earn a spot," Stout said. "But these girls came to play and they swept all four games."
Two victories against Crested Butte, and two more against Gunnison propelled the girls team to a 9-4-1 record and earned the team a spot in the playoffs for the second-straight year. It was unclear Monday where the Steamboat team will be seeded in the tournament. Coaches had expected Steamboat to be seeded third in front of Aspen, but behind Colorado Select and Telluride. However, Steamboat's point total after last weekend might have moved the team into the second seed in front of Telluride. At press time Monday, the league had not officially tallied the points.
"The whole team shined," Stout said. "All of our lines where equally as effective, and we had several players step their game up for these games."
Steamboat opened the weekend with a 4-3 victory against Crested Butte on Saturday. Steamboat got three goals and an assist from Hannah Samlowski, including the game-winner with 9:09 remaining in the third period. Monica Patten scored Steamboat's only other goal of the game. Goalie Alice Aurin finished with 11 saves.
Steamboat wrapped up the two-game set with a 2-0 shutout victory against Crested Butte. Samlowski scored both goals and Rebecca Brown had an assist. Aurin was perfect between the pipes, stopping nine Crested Butte shots.
Stout said the Steamboat team not only got strong showings from its star players, but also from some of the team's supporting cast. He said Brown, Ali Pougiales, Sara Stout and Marley Loomis all contributed to the team's victory without scoring goals and that Hannah Bashan's performance was solid at the difficult to play center position.
"Our girls, all of them, really stepped it up last weekend," Stout said. "It might have been poke check, a take-a-way or a blocked shot. But they did the little things that it takes to win a game."
On Sunday, Steamboat picked up two more wins against the visiting team from Gunnison. Steamboat escaped the first game, which was played at 6 a.m., with a 3-2 win. Gunnison's Jennifer Ehmsen kept the visiting team in the game with first- and second-period goals. But Steamboat's Ellana Williams matched the Gunnison player with two for the home team. The first came in the first and was unassisted. In the second period Williams hooked up with Samlowski to tie the game. The game-winner came off the stick of Olivia Gorr who got a helping hand from Samlowski. Aurin stopped 13 of Gunnison's 15 shots on goal.
After winning the first game, the local team collected a 5-1 victory against Gunnison in the second game of the day. Gorr and Samlowski finished with two goals each and Williams added the other Steamboat goal. Megan Stabile, Williams and Samlowski all had assists in the game.