Steamboat Springs After 45 minutes of fast paced skating, 57 shots on goal and nine power-play opportunities, Monday night’s hockey game at Howelsen Ice Arena came down to great goalkeeping and one unlikely goal.
“That’s my second goal in high school hockey,” Steamboat Springs junior Patrick Weston said after Steamboat’s 1-0 victory against Battle Mountain. “I just got the puck on the point and decided to take a quick slap shot that ended up going in. “
The goal turned out to be the difference on the scoreboard, but Battle Mountain coach Gary Defina thinks the difference in the game was actually the performance of Steamboat goalkeeper Joey Haight.
“There was good goaltending on both sides,” Defina said. “We were coming off a big win on Saturday, and I thought we were a little flat in the first period for sure and part of the second. But we poured about 15 shots on that kid in the third period and just couldn’t get anything past him.”
Haight finished the game with 26 saves and managed to protect the Sailors’ fragile edge for just less than two periods. On the other side of the ice, Battle Mountain goalkeeper Curtis Hart also was putting together a valiant effort.
He managed to come up with 30 saves on the night and turned away an onslaught of shots in the closing minutes of the game from several top Steamboat players including Vladan Chase, Ian Anderson, Lance Ostrom, Kaelen Gunderson, Skylar Martin, Grant McCannon and Jake Bearss.
But it was Weston’s second-period shot from the point through traffic that Hart couldn’t overcome. The goal, which was assisted by Chase, came 2 minutes, 59 seconds into the second period and turned out to be all the offense the Sailors would need.
“There was traffic, and I don’t think he really saw it,” Defina said. “That was it. That was the only one that went by, but that was all it took.”
The Huskies had plenty of opportunities to get back into the game, but Steamboat’s penalty kill was tough all night.
The Huskies couldn’t capitalize on a power play in the first, three in the second, including a 5-on-3, and three more in the third.
“We don’t like to be in a situation where we have to kill penalties,” Sailors coach Jeff Ruff said. “But we have some very quick guys who can get to the puck and create frustration in the other team when they are trying to set up a real organized power play. We don’t like to be in the penalty situation, but we work on it a lot in practice.”
Ruff was pleased with all of his players on the ice, but he credited Haight for coming through when his team needed it most.
“They were railing on me in front during the third,” Haight said. “They were getting a lot of screens. But I was seeing around them and was able to get my eye on the puck at the last second and make the stop. I was just focused on keeping it out. I was able to keep my head in it and take the win away.”
This is the second time the Sailors have faced Battle Mountain this year. The Huskies won the first game, 1-0.
“This isn’t the most challenging game we will play this season, but this is always the grittiest,” Haight said after the game. “It’s a good rivalry.”
Steamboat, 7-2-2, will host Liberty, 0-12-0, at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Battle Mountain, 6-4-1, will take on Palmer, 7-5-0, at 5 p.m. Friday at Dobson Ice Arena.