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Sailors fall short

For two periods in Friday night’s hockey game everything seemed to be going as planned for the Sailors.

Steamboat Springs had opened the game with a strong first period and built a 2-1 lead against Kent Denver, inspiring hopes of an upset.

Unfortunately, there are three periods in hockey, and Kent Denver used all three to prove why they are one of the top teams in the state year after year, beating the Sailors, 3-2.

In the final period, the Sun Devils found new life after John Paul Beaupre scored a power-play goal after an ill-advised penalty.

Then in overtime, Kent Denver’s Nathan Roberts skated into the Steamboat zone and used a drop pass to set up one to Beaupre again.

This time, the Kent Denver player skated into the zone unchecked and made the Sailors pay with the game-winning goal with 2:52 left to play.

“We’ve got to learn how to keep playing,” Steamboat’s Brad Bonner said after the game. “We’ve got to play through the buzzer and learn to not give up.”

It was a disappointing ending to a well-played game for the Sailors.

“We played a great first period. … Sometimes things just don’t go your way,” Bonner said.

Things pretty much went Steamboat’s way for the first 15 minutes of Friday’s game.

Steamboat’s Clay McKenzie scored the first goal of the game after teammate Chris Baumann set him up with a pass right through the Kent Denver crease. McKenzie fought off the Kent Denver defenseman to poke the puck into the back of the net with 11 minutes left to play in the period.

Kent Denver took advantage of Steamboat’s aggressive defense less than a minute later, however, to get the tying goal.

Steamboat turned the puck over just outside the Kent Denver blue line, allowing Charlie Sayre and Roberts to get the two-on-one advantage. Roberts finished the play by scoring. The goal made the score 1-1 with 10:04 left to play.

The Sailors didn’t let the goal slow them down, however.

Steamboat continued to pressure Kent Denver in the closing minutes of the period by peppering goaltender Tate Maris with shots. Several just missed the mark, and forward Tanner Grimes watched one glance off the cross bar.

Finally, with 2:49 left in the period, Steamboat regained the lead when freshman Jake Stanford drove one home from just inside the blue line. He was set up by teammates Bonner and Baumann.

Steamboat had 12 shots on goal in the period compared to three by Kent Denver.

“We came out and out-shot them for two periods and dramatically outplayed them in the first,” coach Dave Strang said. “We let them start to come back and they got a little energy. … We made some small mistakes that we can’t make against a team like this.”

Kent Denver’s offense picked up in the final two periods as the Sun Devils put 18 shots on goal in the final two periods of regulation and two in overtime.

“I don’t think it was a fatigue issue,” Stanford said. “We came out strong, but they just came out stronger in the third period.”

Steamboat will need to shake the heartbreaking loss quickly. The team is scheduled to face Liberty at 11 a.m. today. Steamboat defeated Liberty, 4-0, the last time the two teams met.


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