Steamboat Springs Olivia Gorr celebrated the Steamboat Springs U-19 girls hockey team’s third consecutive Mountain States Girls Hockey League Championship from the bottom of the pile Sunday morning. She wasn’t complaining.
“I was surprised that it happened,” the Steamboat Springs High School junior said about her backhand shot that cleared the Gunnison goalkeepers shoulder before finding its way into the back of the net. The goal secured Steamboat’s fourth victory of the weekend — a 3-2 victory against Gunnison at the Edge Ice Arena in Littleton.
Seconds after the goal, Gorr was swarmed by her teammates who piled on in a show of appreciation and solidarity. It was an unlikely scene considering that Steamboat had started out flat and trailed the Gunnison team, 2-1, in the championship girls U-19 AA game with just a few minutes left in the third period.
“I thought that we were going to lose,” Gorr admitted after the game. “We had trailed for most of the game, and everybody was pretty down in the third period. But then Hannah (Samlowski) scored and it pumped us all up.”
It was the second of two goals in regulation by Samlowski and it helped set up the overtime scene. Samlowski said the team got off to a slow start, but she thought things got progressively better as the game advanced. By the time the two team’s entered overtime, she was confident that Steamboat was going to win.
Gunnison had controlled most of the game thanks to a first period goal from Jessica Daquila and another from Gabrielle Kalow in the second to take a 2-1 advantage into the third period. Samlowski’s first goal came early in the second period and tied the game at 1-1. It was assisted by Gorr and Megan Stabile. The second came in the closing minutes of the third period and kept Steamboat’s title hopes alive.
“We started cheering for one another and we started to play more like a team after the first goal,” Samlowski said. “We kept the puck in Gunnison’s zone for most of the overtime, and we kept pressuring them.”
Despite Steamboat’s aggressive play, the first five-minute overtime period ended without a score. But Steamboat was able to take advantage of a power play in the second sudden death period to set up the winning goal and secure the team’s third championship. It was the second overtime victory against Gunnison in the last two years.
Samlowski said she sent a pass in from near the blue line to Gorr who was in front of the net. Gorr lifted the puck with a backhand shot that found the back of the goal. Gorr, Samlowski, Megan Stabile, Sara Stout and Katelin Verploeg have spent years on the ice together along with goalkeeper Ellana Williams — who stopped 24 of Gunnison’s 26 shots on goal. Gorr said that core group was the difference in Sunday’s championship.
“We’ve played together our entire lives,” Gorr said. “We know how to play with one another, and we know how to pull together when the game is on the line.”
The win is bittersweet for a couple of Steamboat players. Sweet because they get to leave with a league championship, bitter because it was the final game for Williams and Verploeg.
The Steamboat Springs U-12 AA hockey team also placed third at the Mountain States Girls Hockey League Championships. The team beat the Junior Eagles, 6-1, on the final day to place third.
Steamboat players earn top recognition
Four Steamboat Springs Hockey players were named to the All-League Team following this year’s Mountain States Girls Hockey League tournament at the Edge Ice Arena in Littleton.
Steamboat Hannah Samlowski was one of two defensive players named to the team, and Olivia Gorr was one of three forwards to get special recognition in the U-19 division. Steamboat’s Tanner Stover was recognized for her work in goal with the U-16 Steamboat girls team, and defensive player Libby Lukens was named to the U-12 team.
Coaches from the league got together and voted for players in each of the divisions. Their choices were announced at the end of last weekend’s tournament in Littleton.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com