Steamboat Springs High School senior John Wharton scores a goal during the first period of Saturday night's game against Battle Mountain High School.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs High School senior John Wharton scores a goal during the first period of Saturday night's game against Battle Mountain High School.

Steamboat hockey gets easy win against Battle Mountain

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Members of the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team celebrate after a goal by sophomore Bobby Elliott during the first period of Saturday night's game against Battle Mountain High School.

— In early January, the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team sat in the locker room at Summit High School on the heels of a bad loss at a crossroads in the season.

Sure, the Sailors were talented, but something was missing from the team.

That night, there were conversations between the coaches and players as well as among the players.

Whatever was said emphatically has worked.

Steamboat easily beat Battle Mountain, 8-1, on Saturday at Howelsen Ice Arena.

“We had a couple of team meetings after the loss to Summit,” said Steamboat coach Jeff Ruff, whose team has outscored its opponents 31-5 since the Summit loss. “That loss to Summit was a winnable game, in my opinion. I thought we came out and weren’t moving our feet. We didn’t win the one-on-one battles, and we took too many penalties.”

It also helps that those shots that were ringing off the posts or sailing just wide now are starting to find the back of the net.

Although Battle Mountain is having an atypical season — they’re 0-13-1 — the two teams generally make things interesting.

On Saturday, however, Steamboat made sure it wouldn’t be much of a game.

The Sailors got first-period goals from John Wharton and Bobby Elliott to take a 2-0 lead. 

Then in the second, Ben Wharton, Jackson Perry and Lance Ostrom all added goals to make it 5-0.

“It was a wake-up call when we heard we were last in the league,” Ostrom said. “We cracked down in practice. We knew whenever (Battle Mountain) comes up to play us, they always bring their A game. We knew we had to jump out.”

The Huskies’ Jesse Greve added a goal late in the second to cut it to 5-1 before Ostrom added his second on the power play to make it 6-1.

Steamboat’s Matt Hale and Ben Wharton added late goals for the final result.

“We have a lot of younger players that were expecting to step in and carry a lot of playing time,” Ruff said. “It took those guys a little while to adjust. We knew they were going to. What you’re seeing now is some really strong play.”

That will have to continue if Steamboat expects to make the playoffs. With the win, the Sailors improved to 7-5 overall and 2-4 in the Foothills Conference. Steamboat is 10th in the conference, with the top eight teams making the playoffs.

The team plays at 6:30 p.m. Friday at home against Mullen and at 3 p.m. Saturday at home against Standley Lake. Both are conference games and both are almost must wins at this point in the season.

“It’s added motivation,” Ostrom said. “We want to make the playoffs. Us seniors, we’ve been to the playoffs every year we’ve been in high school. We want to keep it going.”

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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