Jake Bearss scored twice as the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team rode a three-goal second period to a 5-2 victory against visiting Standley Lake on Wednesday night at the Howelsen Ice Arena.
After the win, the Sailors (12-3-2) are set for a two-game home stretch that will determine whether they can stand atop the Peak Conference.
Steamboat plays at 6:30 p.m. Friday against a struggling Coronado squad, then again at 3 p.m. Saturday in Steamboat against tradition-rich Cheyenne Mountain.
“We’ve seen Coronado play, and we know they’re a team that if we’re not aggressive and ready to play can give us trouble. Then Cheyenne Mountain, they’re a very proud program,” Steamboat coach Jeff Ruff said. “We know their coach well, and he usually gets the best out of his players this time of year. We’re hoping to do the same.”
If they get a few more efforts like they found Wednesday night, the Sailors could be in good shape.
It wasn’t pretty early — Standley Lake got a goal less than 30 seconds into the first period from Nick O’Donnell. But the Sailors kept the Gators from expanding the lead and bounced back in a big way in the second period.
Bearss, who missed three games before returning to the lineup Monday, scored two fast goals to tie the game and then take the lead.
“It was nice because I can trust my line to move the puck back and forth,” Bearss said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything.”
Bearss got the ball rolling, but his teammates helped turn a slim lead into a comfortable edge.
Jon Winkelblech scored soon after Bearss, and before the 15-minute second period was even four minutes old, Steamboat had a two-goal advantage.
“You play a period of hockey, you see what they’re going to do, what their style of play is, and we made some adjustments to take advantage,” Ruff said. “We came into the locker room after that first period confident we could be successful if we just raised our intensity level a little bit.”
By the time the team came out of the locker room after the second period, the game was in control.
Lance Ostrom and John Wharton each piled on in the third period. The Gators answered with one goal from Chris Roach, but it wasn’t nearly enough to slow the suddenly unstoppable Sailors.
“They worked hard tonight,” Standley Lake coach Scott Reynolds said about Steamboat. “They got some breaks and worked hard.”