Sailors hockey pulls out a 3-2 victory against Chatfield

Senior Eric Bonner scores 2 late goals for Sailors

— If nothing else, the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team doesn’t make it boring.

For the fourth time in six games, Steamboat left the second period tied or down. But for the fourth time, the Sailors found the grit and managed to find a way to win.

This time – thanks to two late goals by senior Eric Bonner – Steamboat was able to pull out a 3-2 victory against Chatfield despite not playing its best hockey.

Bonner scored the equalizer at the 8:10 mark in the third period before scoring the game-winner just 1:12 into overtime on a 4-on-3 power play.

“We’ve been known as a team that pulls through in the third period,” Bonner said. “Being down just kind of lit a fire in us in that third period.”

That’s an understatement. So far this year, the Sailors (6-0 overall) have owned the third and overtime periods. With the two goals Friday, Steamboat now has outscored its opponents, 16-1, in the third and overtime periods. The Sailors also are 2-0 in overtime play this year.

“The guys have the heart and the desire to be successful,” Steamboat coach Jeff Ruff said. “So they dug deep and again pulled it out in the third period and overtime.”

Early on, it looked as if Steamboat would skate to an easy victory. Thanks to six Chatfield penalties – including putting Steamboat at a 5-on-3 advantage for 3:17 – Steamboat had plenty of opportunities. The Sailors outshot the Chargers, 18-2, in the period. Still, Chatfield goalie Cory Johnson was more than up for the challenge.

Finally, Steamboat’s Ian Anderson snuck one over Johnson’s glove side at the 11:41 mark on a 5-on-3 power play.

“We should have dominated that game in the first period,” Ruff said.

Johnson’s glove work seemed to spark his team in the second period. It was a reversal of sorts with the Chargers putting shots on net and the Sailors taking the penalties. Ryan Gillespie tied the game at 1 midway through the first when he pounded in a rebound that bounced out of Steamboat goalie Matt Dawes’ glove.

Then, with two seconds left in the period, the Chargers’ Trevor Knoll capitalized on another rebound to give Chatfield a 2-1 lead.

But in the third, after Steamboat won a faceoff in the Chatfield zone, Bonner ripped a shot from just inside the blue line to tie the game at 2.

In overtime, Bonner again fired one on net – this time from the top of the zone – that deflected off a skate and in.

“I knew there was a bunch of traffic in there, so I just put one on as hard as I could,” Bonner said. “I was hoping it’d go off someone’s skate, and it sure did.”

Steamboat now welcomes No. 2 Lewis-Palmer for a 3 p.m. game today at Howelsen Ice Arena.

Ruff knows the Sailors will have to play better if they expect to keep their record intact.

“I think the guys will respond,” Ruff said. “They know what they have to do.”

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