The Jim Fournier Hockey Tournament was unveiled last weekend at Howelsen Hill Ice Arena, and a pair of Steamboat Springs Hockey teams rose to the top.
Steamboat's Peewee A Team, made up of 11- and 12-year-old players, won the title in the older bantam division, which consists of teams made up of 13- and 14-year-old players. Steamboat's squirt A team also won the 8- and 9-year-old division.
Steamboat's Peewee A hockey team took the ice in the bantam division after a team from Craig was unable to attend the tournament.
"This was quite an opportunity for our team to test their skills early in the season before our regular season begins next weekend in Greeley," coach Bob Milne said. "We were excited, but when our boys saw the size of some of these teams, they were a little a bit in awe."
The peewees opened with a 3-2 win against Steamboat's Bantam B team in the first game of the tournament. The peewee team scored 26 seconds into the game, when Patrick Milne knocked the puck into the back of the net after taking a pass from Matt Hale.
"I think that made everyone believe we could skate at this level," coach Milne said.
The bantam team bounced back and tied the game on a hard wrist shot from Jake Miller.
In the second period, a goal from Jackson Perry, assisted by Patrick Milne, put the peewees ahead. But the bantam team came right back on a goal by Ben Wharton. But the peewees put the game away late in the second period, when Erik Sobeck beat the bantam goalie for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
On Saturday, the peewees skated to a scoreless tie against the Foothills bantam team, thanks to some nice goaltending from Trent Trask who came away with 19 saves. Casey Weston, Sobeck, Quinn Cain and Ryan Walker anchored the peewee defense. Newcomers Andrew Firestone and Danny LaPointe also contributed.
The peewee team suffered its only loss of the weekend against a much larger Front Range team, 5-0, but thanks to the Steamboat bantam team defeating Foothills Saturday night, the peewee team got another chance - this time in the finals.
The rematch with the Front Range team was a chance for the younger, smaller peewee players to avenge the team's earlier loss.
The two teams battled through regulation of the championship game and deep into overtime. But with time running out, Perry dug the puck out from behind the net and found Patrick Milne, who beat the Front Range goalkeeper for the game-winner.
"We really did not expect to win a bantam tournament, but it sure gives us some good momentum going into our regular season," coach Milne said.
Steamboat also was represented in the tournament in the squirt division.
The Steamboat team was undefeated, picking up wins against Cheyenne (5-1), Colorado Springs (5-0) and the Junior Eagles from Denver (6-0).
In the championship game, the Steamboat Squirts faced off against the Junior Eagles. Steamboat got goals from Matthew Thielemann, Bryce Sullivan and Jack McNamara en route to a 3-1 victory.
"It was a total team effort," coach Blair McNamara said. "We played well on offense and defense."
Goal keeper Jackson Draper gave up just two goals in four games, while the Steamboat offense pumped in 19 goals along the road to the championship.