Steamboat hockey sunk in home opener by Chatfield | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat hockey sunk in home opener by Chatfield

Ben Ingersoll

— Perhaps no two teams on the Colorado high school hockey landscape were more eager — more desperately hungry — to grab a win than the Chatfield Chargers and the Steamboat Springs Sailors heading into Friday night.

In Steamboat’s season home opener at Howelsen Ice Arena, Chatfield used a pair of second-period goals no more than 20 seconds apart to sink the host Sailors, 2-1, and drop them to 0-7 for the season. Both the Chargers and Sailors came into the Foothills Conference matchup winless this winter.

Playing in front of an always raucous Howelsen Arena crowd, new Steamboat coach Chris Campanelli sensed his squad came out a little nervous in the first 17 minutes but more fired up to compete in front of friends and family. It was the sloppy second period during which the Sailors let their guard down a bit, battling for the majority of the period at least one man down, and it cost them.

"We’ve got some things to work on," Campanelli said. "Our hitting got a little sloppy there in the second. That doesn’t help when we are disadvantaged for five minutes with a boarding penalty."

It was Steamboat that opened the game on a tear, testing Chatfield goalie Cody Trujillo with a flurry of shots in the first five minutes — a stretch where the Chargers couldn’t seem to gain much momentum, much less get the puck near Sailors’ goalie Jackson Draper.

The Sailors’ Harry Wilson finally capitalized on an out-of-place Trujillo late in the first period, taking assists from Jordan Gorr and Jack McNamara and sliding one by the Chargers for the 1-0 lead about 6 minutes into the game.

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But even a relatively solid night for Draper in front of the net and 21 Steamboat shots couldn’t give the Sailors their first win. A scoreless final period came to a close on the heels of a 45-second late barrage from Campanelli’s squad, during which McNamara was turned away twice as the third-period buzzer sounded.

"Every kid on this team knows that last 45 seconds is what they have to do in every shift, every period of every game to be successful," Campanelli said.

The coach said the team full of sophomores and juniors continues to improve. He and his three assistants saw more consistent passing, cleaner breakouts and better zone coverage.

Those last 45 seconds ended up as a heartbreaking last-ditch effort, but certainly the coaching staff’s selling point to their young team is it can’t dwell on the loss too long, no matter how much it hurts to lose by one goal for the third time already this year.

"Swallow it, deal with it, use that anger and aggression and try to feed off it tomorrow," Campanelli said, referring to the Sailors’ game against Lewis Palmer on Saturday at home. "We have to take it out on our next opponent and move forward. We can’t look behind us and wonder, ‘What if?’"

Lewis Palmer comes into the game with a 3-3 record after losing to Mountain Vista on Friday night. The puck will drop at Howelsen Ice Arena at 3 p.m.

The Sailors will continue their home stand after the holiday break with another pair of Friday-Saturday games against Battle Mountain on Jan. 9 and Kent Denver on Jan. 10.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll