Steamboat Springs Steamboat had Aspen on its heels.
The Sailors were dictating the pace of play and looked like they were well on their way to moving into the second round of the state high school hockey playoffs.
Then the third period - and an abundance of penalties - hit.
Aspen scored three power play goals in the third period, thanks to two five-minute major penalties by Steamboat Springs High School, en route to a 4-0 win in the first round of the playoffs Friday in Littleton. The Sailors' loss ended their season.
"It's sad because we had them on the run," Steamboat coach Jeff Ruff said. "We had them pretty much where we'd wanted."
Steamboat had a goal disallowed in the first five minutes of the first period because of a high stick.
But that didn't seem to phase the Sailors early on.
Ruff said Steamboat put chance after chance on the Aspen net for the first two periods.
But in the third, Sailors seniors Greg Ingalls and Cam Fritz picked up back-to-back five-minute major penalties, putting Aspen on the power play for 10 of the 15 minutes in the period.
"We felt that we were successful doing what we had set up to do before the game," Ruff said. "We controlled the pace of the game. But we had a couple of over amped seniors make a little mistake. You can't play when you're one man down the whole third period."
Ruff said players including Tim Rabbitt, Billy Taylor, Kaelen Gunderson and Eric Bonner played possibly their best game of the year. He also commended senior goalie Jeff Dawes for his work in front of the net.
"We really can't walk away like it was a tragic loss," Ruff said. "But you kind of have to think we handed them the key to the game. We were dictating the play, but in the end, we can't take those penalties."