Steamboat Springs hockey team picks up big win against Fountain Valley

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— It would be hard to argue that the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team has had a bigger win this year than the one it did Friday.

Playing a Fountain Valley team that was near the top of the Peak Conference, Steamboat played like its playoff lives were on the line.

The Sailors did whatever they wanted and limited the Danes' dangerous playmakers in running away with a 5-1 win.

“Now that we’re looking at the tail end of the season, we had to have that gut chuck and say, ‘How do we want to finish out?’” said Steamboat assistant coach Kerry Shea. He filled in for head coach Brent Tollar, who had to sit the game out after Steamboat was assessed 15 penalties in the past game.

Prior to the game, the contest looked like a wash on paper. Fountain Valley came in at 12-3 and was in second in the Peak Conference.

But someone forgot to tell Steamboat. 
The Sailors got off to a blazing start with three first-period goals to take a 3-0 first-period lead. Matt Hale and Brandon Martin bookended goals around a Jackson Perry shorthanded goal for the lead.

“We knew we had to come out and set the tone,” Shea said.

The Danes responded immediately in the second period with Sage Marshall finding Trevor Shott on the power play to cut it to 3-1.

But three minutes later, Jarret Walt scored, and Tyler Scott added a late breakaway goal for the final result.

The key, however, was Steamboat’s ability to limit Fountain Valley in its offensive zone. The Danes had three players enter with at least 30 points.

“They got a lot of guys that can snipe and finish the play,” Shea said. “We really wanted to focus on our forechecking and knocking them off the puck.”

Steamboat goaltender Jesse Draper came up huge in net, stopping 35 of the 36 shots he saw.

It doesn’t get easier for Steamboat (7-7-2). The team plays Monarch (14-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday at home.

Monarch is tied for the Foothills Conference lead. Steamboat is in ninth, a spot out of the playoffs.

“You see it in professional sports and in a long season,” Shea said. “If the team starts to gel at the right time, it’s a powerful thing. Every shift we have to win. Every battle we have to win.”

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

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