Aspen hockey gets the best of Steamboat in renewed rivalry
Steamboat Springs — The sound of Aspen High School senior Tyler Tick and four of his teammates crashing into the Steamboat Springs student section glass echoed through an almost silent Howelsen Ice Arena with about nine minutes remaining in Wednesday night’s game.
On a night when the Steamboat Sailors hockey team was often the aggressor, the Skiers were the finishers and Tick was the X factor. Tick — widely known by Steamboat on the football and lacrosse fields, and now the ice — poured in a hat trick, downing the Sailors in the process, 3-1.
“We’ve heard it from them in all of our sports,” Tick said about the Steamboat fans. “Today they had a great crowd so I had to give it back to them.”
The Howelsen crowd was rowdy as always, and the Skiers-Sailors renewed rivalry was as chippy as ever. Both sides saw significant time in the penalty box and were the subjects of after-the-whistle pushing and shoving, but again it was Aspen that seized control late and crushed the Steamboat faithful at home.
Tick knocked in his first goal just 21 seconds into the second period after each team went scoreless in the opening 17 minutes.
Tick’s goal was answered nearly 12 minutes later by Steamboat senior Logan Bankard, who helped the Sailors knot it up, 1-1, despite an otherwise rugged second period.
But a gassed Steamboat team, playing its fourth game in less than a week, let its guard down just a little in the third period and it bit the Sailors big time. Tick dropped his second goal with 9:07 remaining and promptly barreled into the glass by the Steamboat students, then finished off the hat trick inside five minutes.
“They came out in that third and did what they had to do,” Aspen coach Dru Lucchesi said. “Steamboat played us really tough. We were pretty sloppy the whole game, but we came in here to get a win and we pulled it off.”
The loss dropped Steamboat to 1-11 this winter, and Aspen’s victory gave the Skiers their first win since Dec. 5. Aspen had lost four of its five games this year by just one goal.
The two squads met in each team’s season opener on Dec. 2, a 4-1 Sailors loss. Since then, Steamboat has played 11 games with its lone win, but Sailors coach Chris Campanelli continues to see his young group chase its goals despite its record.
And it sure does help, Campanelli added, when Steamboat students, parents and fans pack the Howelsen Ice Arena stands and roar, egging on the likes of Tick despite a 1-11 record.
“We really thank the fans for coming and being supportive, especially with our team having the losing season we’re having,” Campanelli said. “They realize we’re playing good hockey. They support us regardless of our record.”
Steamboat gets a much-needed break and will be back on the ice Jan. 23 at home against Monarch. The puck drops at 6:30 p.m.
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Time seemed to stop for Matthew Engle for a few seconds after he heard crunching metal last week while he was in downtown Steamboat Springs.