Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs High School hockey team had eight seniors on its roster Wednesday night when the squad opened its season at home against rival Battle Mountain. It was a sophomore that helped propel the Sailors to a win in their debut, however.
Alex Elliott scored twice in the first period for Steamboat. Senior goalie Erik Owen supplied a handful of big saves early, and after junior Lance Ostrom tucked in a goal midway through the second period, the squad was well on its way to a 1-0 record, winning, 4-1, Wednesday night.
“We did a lot of things we wanted to do, but we still have a lot to work on,” Steamboat coach Jeff Ruff said. “We got the win, and we’re happy to start the season beating Battle Mountain in front of our home fans.”
Steamboat set the tone of the match early, staying for long possessions in Battle Mountain’s zone. Elliott took advantage, slapping home a pass from Blayne Conroy with 5 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the first period.
His second was even sweeter for the Sailors. Elliott went out for a poke check, but he quickly found himself with the puck and free from the pack. He skated down alone and whipped in his second goal from 15 feet, scoring with just five seconds remaining in the first period.
“I just got lucky there,” Elliott said.
Lucky or not, it was decisive.
“That’s a killer,” Huskies coach Gary Defina said. “When they score any time in the last minute, and especially right at the end of the first period like that, that’s a momentum killer. It was really deflating.”
Ostrom tacked on a short-handed second-period goal to pad the lead.
Steamboat wasn’t clean on the night, but the team’s ability to melt away several penalties and even score on an early one helped keep the game in control.
“Steamboat outworked us,” Defina said. “They beat us to pucks, they won the battles, and that’s what it comes down to at any level of hockey.”
Battle Mountain’s Rudi Baldwin blasted a shot from 30 feet into a pack near the net. Jack Sunderland deflected the puck as it neared the net, and it bounced across the line to make it 3-1.
Goalie Jeff LaPrade made several big saves to keep things close, but Steamboat’s Christian Ramirez scored with 3:17 remaining to end any hopes of a comeback.
“We’re not even breaking the ice yet,” Owen said. “We can hit a lot more. We have a lot more speed. We’ll be a really good-looking team after a few more weeks, but we did look pretty good tonight. I’m definitely not complaining.”
The Sailors next play at 3:15 p.m. Saturday at Summit.
— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org