Steamboat Springs High School senior Lance Ostrom squeezes in a goal during the third period of Saturday's game against Standley Lake at Howelsen Ice Arena.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs High School senior Lance Ostrom squeezes in a goal during the third period of Saturday's game against Standley Lake at Howelsen Ice Arena.

Steamboat hockey stays in playoff hunt with 6-1 win

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Steamboat Springs High School sophomore Matt Hale fights for the puck during Saturday's game against Standley Lake at Howelsen Ice Arena.

— Statement officially made.

Sure, inconsistencies and sometimes frustrating play dotted parts of the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team this year.

On Saturday, that all seemed forgotten in a game where Steamboat played its most complete game of the year.

The end result wasn’t just a win.

The 6-1 drubbing of Standley Lake announced to the rest of the Foothills Conference that Steamboat could be a tough out should the team get into the playoffs.

“If we didn’t get points out of both games (this weekend), it just gets harder,” Steamboat coach Jeff Ruff said. “We always expect to come in and do well. I think these guys now see the level they can compete at.”

Steamboat entered the contest on the edge of the final playoff spot. Standley Lake was third in the Foothills Conference.

With the Sailors knowing they have to win nearly the rest of their games to make the playoffs, Steamboat was by far the more desperate and efficient team.

It started right from the beginning when Matt Hale lit up a wrister from between the circles to give the Sailors a 1-0 lead. Minutes later, Christian Ramirez skated into the zone from his defenseman position, his wrister giving Steamboat a 2-0 lead.

The Gators had opportunities to get back into it, starting midway through the second period. Standley Lake’s Connor Watkins was pulled down from behind on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot.

But Steamboat’s Trent Trask made a kick save on the play to preserve the lead.

“We had to win this game,” said Trask, who made 23 saves. “We needed the conference points, and I had to step up. It was just a new day. I started over and focused on myself.”

Standley Lake cut it to 2-1 with less than four minutes to go in the second period. But Bubba Ivers and Quinn Cain scored goals 19 seconds apart to put Steamboat up, 4-1, heading into the third period.

Steamboat’s Lance Ostrom added two third-period goals — his fifth in the past two games — to cap the rout.

Since an early January loss to Summit, Steamboat has been red hot. The team is 4-0-1 in its past five games.

“We knew it was pretty much do or die,” said Cain, who scored his first goal of the season Saturday. “We didn’t start off well. Now it’s a battle to get points, and we are starting to step it up. It feels pretty awesome to be able to beat them. I think it tells the other teams that we can play.”

Steamboat (8-5-1 overall, 3-4-1 in Foothills Conference) plays another pair of must-win games this week.

The team plays at 6:30 p.m. Friday at home against Columbine and plays its last home game of the season at 3 p.m. Saturday against Dakota Ridge.

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

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