Hockey readies for 2 at home

Sailors looking for pair of wins

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What: Steamboat hockey vs. Fountain Valley and Mullen

When: 6:30 p.m. today vs. Fountain Valley; 3 p.m. Saturday vs. Mullen

Where: Howelsen Ice Arena

— Steamboat Springs High School hockey coach Jeff Ruff didn’t sound too concerned about his team’s recent winless weekend in Aspen.

Although the Sailors went 0-1-2 to open their season, Ruff said all three games were competitive and showed what the team is capable of.

But Ruff said Steam­boat needs different results in its games against Foun­­tain Valley (0-1) at 6:30 p.m. today and Mullen (1-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Both games are at Howelsen Ice Arena.

“They’re looking good right now,” Ruff said. “The two ties and a loss were all good games where we played pretty well. We’ve challenged them to take that next step. Don’t play to tie, play to win.”

In Fountain Valley and Mullen, Steamboat encounters two teams that finished near the bottom of their conferences last season.

The Sailors beat both teams last year.

“I do feel it’s a weekend we need to come away with two wins,” Ruff said. “I really think that Fountain Valley is a conference game, and we need conference wins to get a higher seed.”

Steamboat junior goaltender Erik Owen will get the start today, and fellow junior Joey Haight will get the start Saturday.

Owen said that after shaking off early nerves last weekend, he feels confident in not only his play, but also the play of his defense.

After giving up three goals in his first period last weekend, Owen gave up just one goal his next five periods.

“I just got my focus and started to play really well,” Owen said. “Our offense can put in goals, and I know we can beat both of these teams. Our defense needs to play the way they are and our offense just needs to get more goals.”

Getting more goals means Steamboat will need more balance from its top lines. Steamboat scored four goals during the Aspen tournament, all of which came off the stick of Jake Bearss.

The offense, which came into the season as one area the Sailors didn’t feel like there was much worry, has worked this week on getting out of its own end quicker and finishing opportunities in front of the net.

“We’re looking to draw more scoring opportunities,” Ruff said. “But the guys continue to play well and hard. The guys are confident we’ll win some games this weekend.”

— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com 

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