SSHS hockey preps for big games |

SSHS hockey preps for big games

Sailors team plays against Lewis-Palmer today, Air Academy on Saturday

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs High School hockey coach Jeff Ruff talks to his players about tonight’s game at the end of practice Thursday.

Steamboat Springs High School hockey coach Jeff Ruff talks to his players about tonight's game at the end of practice Thursday.
Matt Stensland

— In search of a chance to make a statement, the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team has found it this weekend.

Steamboat, sitting atop the Peak Conference with a 5-1-2 overall record and 3-0 mark in conference play, will have every opportunity to establish itself as the team to beat in the conference.

Steamboat plays at 8 p.m. today at Lewis-Palmer and at 11 a.m. Saturday at Air Academy.

"We feel these are the two toughest teams we'll see in our conference," said Steamboat coach Jeff Ruff, whose team has won five straight games. "Wins here would pretty much define our place in the conference."

But it will be no easy task. Lewis-Palmer is the defending state championship runner-up, and Air Academy has one of the better prep hockey traditions in the state. Ruff said he wouldn't make any game-defining changes to the Steamboat team. Rather, Ruff said he thinks the Sailors are at a point where they can play their game and make the other team react to that.

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"We're more confident than we've been before," he said. "It's just the dynamic in the locker room is creating a real confident feeling. They trust each other and their goaltender. There's a lot of confidence with this group. I can't think of a better time to play these teams."

SSHS basketball teams take to road in league play

The Steamboat Springs High School girls and boys basketball teams play their first true Western Slope League road games this weekend.

The girls play at 6 p.m. today at Delta and 4 p.m. Saturday against Palisade. The boys play the same teams at 7:30 p.m. today and 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Saturday's games against Palisade will be played at Grand Junction High School because of a wrestling tournament at Palisade High School.

For the girls team, it will be more of the same. Steamboat (7-3 overall, 2-0 in league play) struggled on offense last weekend but more than made up for it with its defensive effort. In Delta and Palisade, Steamboat finds two younger but athletic squads.

Coach John Ameen said the key is to keep relying on the defense, and the offense will eventually come.

"This week we had four great practices," he said. "It's just fine-tuning the offense as usual. But once it's all clicking, it's going to be fun to see it. It's really going to be fun when we're totally on from all parts of the floor."

For the boys team (5-5, 2-0), it'll be one more week that the Sailors will have a full squad. Injuries to several key players made it tough for Steamboat to establish an identity early. Coach Luke DeWolfe said Delta and Palisade are capable of playing tough and making it a game.

DeWolfe said he's confident, however. He said that as each game has progressed, he's seeing more and more that he likes with his team. He said he expects that to continue this weekend.

"Once we get through that feeling-out process, it's just a matter of playing games and executing things we need to do," he said.