Steamboat Springs’ Alex Elliott splits the Summit defense on a drive in the first period of Monday night’s home opener at Howelsen Ice Arena. Elliott scored a goal in the period as the Sailors skated to a 3-2 victory against the visiting Tigers.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs’ Alex Elliott splits the Summit defense on a drive in the first period of Monday night’s home opener at Howelsen Ice Arena. Elliott scored a goal in the period as the Sailors skated to a 3-2 victory against the visiting Tigers.

Steamboat hockey bounces back against Summit

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Steamboat Springs' Michael Samuelson keeps the puck away from a diving Summit player in the first period of Monday night's game at Howelsen Ice Arena. The Sailors skated to a 3-2 victory in the game.

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Steamboat Springs goalie Trent Trask scrambles on the ice after pushing the puck away in the second period of Monday night’s game at Howelsen Ice Arena. Trask finished the night with 34 saves, helping to preserve the Sailors’ 3-2 win against the visiting Summit Tigers.

— The members of the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team returned to Howelsen Ice Arena on Monday night and skated away with a thrilling 3-2 win against Summit.

The victory ended a two-game skid for the Sailors, who have been on the road for the first three games of the season. Steamboat, now 2-2 for the season, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, but Summit, sparked by Evan Streit’s second period goal, wouldn’t go away.

The game came down to the final minutes of the third period and was decided by a short-handed goal from Steamboat’s Jarrett Walt that gave the Sailors a 3-1 lead against the visiting Tigers down the stretch. Tiger Drake Blass added another goal with 45 seconds remaining in the game, but Summit never challenged the Sailors again.

“We saw earlier in the game that the goalie didn’t cover up most of his rebounds,” Walt said as he described the short-handed goal. “I figured that Bubba (Ivers) would shoot it low, and I tried to predict where the rebound would be and skated for that spot.”

The gamble paid off with the game-winning goal.

The victory was a big one for the Sailors, who began the night hoping to put Friday’s 6-3 loss to Fountain Valley and Saturday’s 7-4 loss to Kent Denver behind them.

“This was a really big game for us,” Ivers said. “We wanted to put an end to losing. That was on everybody’s mind when we took the ice tonight.”

The Sailors’ drive showed during the first period as Steamboat outshot the Tigers, 20-8, in the first 17 minutes of play. The Sailors produced a power play goal from Alex Elliot at 7:37 that was assisted by Jackson Perry and Ben Wharton. Senior Lance Ostrom added to Steamboat’s advantage with an unassisted goal at 9:33, and goalie Trent Trask, who finished the night with 34 saves, also came up with several big stops.

But Summit fought back in the second period and turned the tables on the Sailors by outshooting the home team, 14-8. Streit’s goal at 1:57 was assisted by Travis Potts and pulled Summit within one goal, setting up a thrilling third period filled with end-to-end action. But just when it looked like Summit would have an opportunity to tie the game after Steamboat’s Quinn Cain was called for roughing, Walt stole the momentum back for Steamboat. He chipped the puck along the boards past the Summit defender to Ivers, who raced down the ice to set up the game-winner.

“They get that short-handed goal, and it was a backbreaker for us,” Summit coach Chris Ruhly said. “We needed to play all three periods. I thought we battled hard after the first period and at the end of the game — we just came up a little short.”

The loss drops Summit to 1-1 this season, but Ruhly is hoping his team learned a few things in Monday’s game that will help them down the road.

“You know, this is just our second game of the season, and we still have many, many things to work on. I think we will bounce back from this,” the coach said.

Sailors coach Jeff Ruff said the win could not have come at a better time for the Sailors, who were looking to regain some momentum after a tough road trip.

“This was a huge win for us,” Jeff Ruff said. “It gives us a platform to build on for the next three games before the winter break.”

— To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com

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