Photo by Brian Ray
Steamboat's Matt Lettunich, left, sneaks a pass by a Spartan defender during the Sailors' 5-0 victory at the Howelsen Ice Arena in Steamboat Springs on Saturday.
Steamboat Springs Hockey can be a really simple game for the Steamboat Springs High School team.
When the Sailors play their system, move the puck and don't try to skate through the opposing team, Steamboat ends up with 5-0 victories - like the one Saturday against Doherty.
But when Steamboat doesn't do those things, the result is games such as Friday's disappointing 5-3 loss to Rampart.
"That was the main difference. We were skating with the puck, moving into the open lanes and then demanding the puck back," Steamboat coach Jeff Ruff said of Saturday's win. "We were creating more opportunities."
Steamboat got balance from all of its lines, with five players scoring goals and nine players picking up points.
Ruff said balance often is the difference between Steamboat winning and losing.
"Five goals with five different names," Ruff said. "That's what we need to see more of. Last night, we got three goals from two guys. We need more like this than not."
Initially, however, it looked like Friday's play might carry into Saturday. The Spartans (2-12 overall, 2-7 in conference play) had the first three shots of the game, including a breakaway attempt spurred away by sophomore Sailors goalie Matt Dawes.
Dawes' save at the 3 minute, 22 second mark of the first period seemed to turn a switch for the Sailors. Steamboat (6-7, 5-3) answered with three first-period goals in a seven-minute stretch.
The first came off the stick of Cody Fritz, who beat the Doherty goalie glove side for a 1-0 Steamboat lead.
Then, at the 6:44 mark, Cam Fritz picked up a loose puck and scored. Less than five minutes later, Gus Worden got his own rebound, scored and gave Steamboat a 3-0 lead.
"We picked it up big time," said Dawes, who recorded his first high school shutout, stopping 22 shots. "We thought they may have had car legs, but they came ready to play. We responded good and came back with more intensity."
Tim Rabbitt added a second-period goal on a Doherty turnover in its own zone, and Kerry Timmerman finished it off with a third-period wrist shot just in front of the Spartans net.
With six games left, including four conference games to close out the season, Ruff said it's imperative that Steamboat finishes strong.
"We have to be successful in those conference games," said Ruff, noting playoff seeding is determined by conference record. "The way we are going to be successful is to play like we did (Saturday), not the kind of hockey we played" Friday.
Steamboat next plays at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at Howelsen Ice Arena against non-conference opponent Kent Denver. The game is a makeup game and was initially scheduled for Dec. 8.
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