Steamboat Springs It had been a decade since a Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association team advanced to compete in the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association's final four tournament.
Steamboat's Squirt B squad changed all that after cleaning up at the Continental Divide Youth Hockey League playoffs, outscoring its opponents 8-1 to claim a league championship and earn one of two state tournament berths.
The CDYHL-champion Squirt B's, along with runner-up Aspen, will take on the top two teams from the Colorado Competitive Youth Hockey League in a single-elimination playoff. Steamboat plays Littleton Red at 12:10 p.m., Saturday at The Edge Ice Arena in Littleton. Arapahoe plays Aspen in the other semifinal. The semifinal winners play Sunday morning in the state championship.
"All season long, our 16 players have all worked as a team to put themselves in this position. Our motto was 'Play with heart and spirit,' and this team has been inspirational to watch," said Squirt B coach Bob Milne.
Milne noted how fun it has been to see a group of 10-year-olds, many of whom have played together for four years, revel in 6 a.m. practices. "They never give up and believe in themselves and their teammates."
Going into the weekend CDYHL tournament at the Providence Ice Centre (Windsor), Milne knew he would need production from all three lines to emerge from the competitive mix of four teams in the double-elimination tourney.
He got that from Bobby Elliott, Ryan Walker, Patrick Milne and Jackson Perry, as well as "inspired" goalie play from Connor Glynn and Trent Trask.
The team beat Colorado Springs' Colorado Hockey Club, 2-0, on Friday and rode the momentum through the weekend, blanking Aspen 3-0 on Saturday and defeating Aspen 3-1 on Sunday.
"Only allowing one goal in three games against the top teams truly speaks to the intense play of our defense," Milne said, crediting the stingy defensive play of co-captain Erik Sobeck, Casey Weston, Andrew Firestone, Quinn Cain and first-year Squirt Danny LaPointe.
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