Steamboat Springs Steamboat Pee-wee A hockey coach Bob Milne said it played out just like the movie "Miracle."
Fortunately for Steamboat Springs, his athletes were cast as the Americans and, in two thrilling games, they skated their way to a state championship during the weekend in Denver. The team won the title, 3-2, against Littleton PWA Black.
Steamboat won in the semifinal round by overcoming a 4-2 third-period deficit to win, 5-4, then relied on similar magic Sunday to win the state championship. Patrick Milne scored in the second overtime to break a 2-2 tie.
"That was probably some of the most exciting hockey I've ever seen or been a part of," Bob Milne said. "It was a huge success."
The win came in the team's third trip to the state tournament. Two years ago, it bowed out without a win. Last year, it lost in the championship game.
Finally, this year, the team was able to come away on top.
Steamboat led through much of the championship game, earning an early 1-0 lead against Littleton. The opposing team featured Colorado Avalanche star Joe Sakic's son.
Sakic himself watched the game from the bench.
Littleton fought back to tie the game early in the third period, then moments later took the lead.
Steamboat found a way to respond, but it didn't do so until the last seconds of regulation.
Matt Hale, who scored four of the team's five goals the day before, managed to squeeze a pass through heavy defense to Ryan Walker, who quickly ripped a shot toward the goal. The puck deflected off the goalie, but Hale charged the net and knocked it in with 1.5 seconds remaining.
"All of the sudden, my guys, who had been dog tired, had a little life in their legs," Milne said.
The teams played through one scoreless overtime period before Patrick Milne blew the game-winner high and hard past the goalie's glove.
"It was just - wow," Bob Milne said. "Everyone was stunned. Littleton was stunned. And we were stunned."
Milne said it was the first state championship for a Steamboat team since 1999. In addition to that honor, it earned all the players a handshake from Joe Sakic.
"Either team could have won, but our veteran guys knew what it felt like to lose, and they weren't going to let it happen," Milne said about the experienced players on his team of 12- and 13-year-olds.