Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs High School hockey team has begun to find its identity, at least through the pre-holiday portion of its schedule.
Steamboat (3-1-1) showed it's a playoff-caliber team. Whether that holds true will be defined on the road in January.
The Sailors play seven of their eight January games on the road, beginning at 4 p.m. Friday at Pine Creek (4-4). The team also plays at conference foe Columbine (2-6) at 6:15 p.m. Saturday.
“The beginning of the season was about finding out what we have and creating our identity,” first-year coach Brent Tollar said. “Now the rush starts. This is where you make the run for the playoffs.”
In all or parts of its five games this season, Steamboat has looked the part of an elite Colorado high school team.
It started 3-0 by winning the King of the Mountain Cup, but was 0-1-1 in its last two games. An area of concern has been the third period. In its last three games (1-1-1), Steamboat had a third-period lead that it eventually gave up.
For Tollar, however, everything at this point is new. Coming off the holiday break and entering into the team’s first prolonged road stretch will be something new that he has to find out how to deal with.
“This is going to be part of our schedule,” he said. “It really sets the month of January for us.”
The Sailors will be without forwards Alex Elliott and Michael Samuelson this weekend, forcing the team to mix up lines.
But Tollar said he’s confident Steamboat will play well.
“The boys and I are jumping at the bit to get back on the ice,” he said.
Alpine ski team to start season
The Steamboat Springs High School Alpine ski team opens its season Friday in Beaver Creek with a giant slalom race. The first run is at 9:30 a.m. with the second run set to begin at 12:30 p.m.
“First we have to see how the kids perform at the races,” coach Jim Winn said. “We have strong skiers, but until a couple races are under our belt, I don’t want to make statements. But the ability is there.”
The team returns strong skiers in Suzanne Lyon and Peter White. It also has multiple Skimeisters that should help add depth.
Matthew White, Ali Pougiales, Andreas Foulk and Dane Dixson are all Skimeisters, meaning they compete in both Alpine disciplines as well as both Nordic disciplines. Winn said with a larger team on the Nordic side, Steamboat should have a chance to do well at the state championships.
The Alpine team hosts a dual slalom Jan. 11 at Howelsen Hill.
“It’s such a great venue to watch a slalom,” Winn said.
The team, however, won’t have much time for practice. With six races in six weeks, having the team round into form early is paramount.
“Hopefully,” Winn said, “we can strengthen our chance to take a state championship this year.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com