Steamboat Springs Lance Ostrom got tired of hearing a goal scorer’s worst sound.
With each ting of the post, his stomach would tighten and his heart would drop.
“At the beginning of the year, I hit, like, 30 posts total,” said Ostrom, a junior on the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team.
But with a little bit of adjustment in his shot, added to his nonstop motor and skating ability, Ostrom has been on a tear. He’s gone from a nice complementary role to possibly the best player in the Foothills Conference.
The junior has been an offensive monster.
His 15 goals make him tied for first in the conference and tied for third in the state. In his past four games, he has nine goals, including a pair of hat tricks.
“I’ll tell you what,” Steamboat coach Jeff Ruff said. “The (Kent Denver) coach and all the coaches are saying, ‘Is he a senior?’ The Pueblo County coach called him the best kid in the league he’s seen. They are starting to take notice.”
That’s all good news for a 10-2 Steamboat team heading toward its biggest weekend of the season.
Steamboat plays at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Regis and at 6 p.m. Saturday at home against Ralston Valley — two of the other top teams in the conference.
Should Steamboat get a pair of wins, the Sailors will be in prime position to get a top-two seed heading into the playoffs.
A big part of getting past those teams will be Ostrom’s play.
Ostrom, who plays on the top line with center Jake Bearss and winger John Wharton, always has been an impressive athlete.
Ostrom is the rare three-sport athlete, competing in soccer and lacrosse. But whereas a majority of players who excel in one sport solely focus on that sport, Ostrom has excelled in all three — maybe none more so than this winter in the hockey rink.
“Last year, he had glimpses of those moves and glimpses of the kind of skills he possesses,” Ruff said. “We knew he was a skilled player. Right now, a lot of what is going on is he’s playing with tremendous confidence.”
Ostrom deflects the credit, however. Considering his linemates, he knows he is in a good position.
Coming into the season, Bearss was the most talked about Steamboat player, with defenses focusing on him. With that, Ostrom has blossomed and recognizes the position he is in.
“We got great skill all around,” Ostrom said. “All three lines are cooking. I think it’ll help with me there, but to tell you the truth, if I didn’t get those goals, other people would step up.”
Ostrom credits his teammates with turning around his early season slump. He has an ongoing bet with goaltender Erik Owen in practice to see how many times he can score on him. Ostrom credits the competition in practice for making him better as the season has progressed.
Now, as Steamboat embarks on its biggest stretch of the season, Ostrom will no doubt see more attention, something that all of the Sailors will benefit from.
That’s not bad for the guy who couldn’t get anything to go earlier in the season.
“It was just frustration from hearing that ting of the post,” Ostrom said. “I felt like I was letting the team down by hitting them. I just started focusing more on the games. I was visualizing plays hitting the net instead of the red thing that’s my enemy. I’ll definitely help, but it’s more about the team.”
— To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@SteamboatToday.com