Steamboat Springs As the players on the ice decreased, the screams only got louder.
The girls on the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association's U-14 team went 2-1 at this weekend's 14th annual Aspen Fall Face Off, then found themselves deadlocked in the championship game with the host team.
The tournament's sudden-death, overtime format called for each team to pull a player from the ice - each minute - until a goal occurred.
Steamboat scored the game's first goal in the first period, off the stick of Meghan Lukens, but Aspen tied it up in the third period. With the score even at 1-1, Steamboat and Aspen fought through the strange overtime format, progressing from five-on-five, to four-on-four, to three-on-three, to two-on-two: until Hannah Samlowski took her second shift skating in the one-on-one round.
"I was about to faint I was skating so hard, but there was a lot of pressure on me," said Samlowski. "We faced off, and I hit it off the boards and kind of passed it to myself and then, a little before the blue line, I had a breakaway. The goalie was way out, so I just beat her and shot it, I was too tired to skate it in."
Samlowski can still hear the screams.
"Everyone was screaming loud and it just got louder - then everyone was screaming on top of me and tackling me," Samlowski said. "It's the first tournament I've ever won on a team, so it felt really good."
Samlowski credited the play of goalkeeper Ellana Williams, who "was doing awesome" in helping Steamboat out-score its opponents 12-2 in the games she minded the net. Samlowski also said the team has played well in its first games of the season and now has its sights set on qualifying for the state tournament.
Alexa Pighini, who coaches the Steamboat U-19 girls, said her team missed the championship game by a single point, despite an impressive 2-0-1 tournament record.
Herald Stout, who coaches the Steamboat U-12 girls, said that although Steamboat's youngest skaters, some of which are as young as nine, went 1-2, they ended tournament play on a positive note with a 10-1 win over a Colorado Select squad.
"The games don't count for our league standings, but they offer a way to kick off the season, get in hockey mode and get some real game experience," Stout said. "We left stronger than when we came."