Steamboat peewees finally beat Vail, bring home league title
March 5, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After going 18-0 in the regular season, Vail was the favorite to win the Continental Divide Youth Hockey League's Peewee A title last weekend.
But somebody forgot to tell Steamboat Springs.
"Our kids worked their tails off, and that was the difference," said coach Brent Pearson. "They were ready for it, and they wanted it so badly."
Steamboat’s Peewee A team, representing the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association, defeated Vail last weekend and skated away with the league title despite chasing the Mountaineers for most of the winter.
At the end of regular season play, Vail topped the standings with an undefeated record and was followed by Steamboat Springs, which finished 14-3-1. Steamboat's only losses came against Vail.
"They were always close games. We were really tight with them this season, but we just couldn't quite figure out how to solve the mystery," Pearson said. "It was a puzzle."
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The CDYHL tournament opened Friday at the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink. Eight Peewee teams faced off for the title with the weekend culminating at the finals Sunday afternoon.
The Steamboat team made its way through the upper pool beating Glenwood, 4-2, and Telluride, 6-2. Steamboat's only loss came against Vail in a 5-0 game that Pearson said was closer than the score indicated.
Steamboat faced Glenwood, a team that had worked back through the brackets, in the semifinals winning 3-1 Sunday morning. The win set up a rematch with Vail in the championships that afternoon.
Steamboat's Hudson Hare scored the first goal of the game in the second period. Vail's Benno Scheidegger scored a goal in the third period to tie the game at 1-1. Steamboat's captain Andrew Kempers gave Steamboat the boost they needed by scoring the game-winning halfway through the final period.
Pearson credited goalkeeper Rush Hale for making the biggest impact. Hale stopped 21 of 22 Vail shots, including a barrage at the end of the game. Steamboat had 14 shots on goal in the game with Mountaineer goalkeeper Christian Dent stopping 12 of them.
"It's all about heart, hard work and good goal tending," Pearson said.
Brian Ripley, SSYHA director, said this was a good year for Steamboat teams. In addition to the Peewee A title, Steamboat's Squirt A team and the Bantam B team both finished second at the CDYHL tournament.
"Overall, we had a very good, successful year collectively as an association," Ripley said. "It doesn't happen very often, so it's a pretty big deal that they (the Peewee A team) won the title."
Ripley is thrilled at the association’s continued success. Last year, many of these players were on the PeeWee B team that won the title. They played the other team from Steamboat Springs in the finals, which took place in Aspen.