Steamboat hockey opens with win after break |

Steamboat hockey opens with win after break

Luke Graham

— Rust? What rust?

The Steamboat Springs High School hockey team showed Wednesday that there weren't any residual effects from a holiday break, pounding Chatfield early and outlasting a late surge, holding on for a 6-4 win in the team's first game since Dec. 18.

"We did a lot of good things right," Steamboat coach Jeff Ruff said about the make-up game at Chatfield, rescheduled from Dec. 19. "We played well for 40 minutes."

For the first two periods, Steamboat played a dominant brand of hockey.

The Sailors jumped out to a 4-0 first-period lead on two goals by Jake Bearss and one each from John Wharton and Jon Winkelblech.

When Patrick Weston's shot rang in at the 11 minute, 51 second mark of the second period, Steamboat built a 5-0 lead.

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Chatfield got one late in the second period, when a Trevor Knoll goal cut the lead to 5-1.

Steamboat made it 6-1 early in the third period on a goal by sophomore defenseman Brady Bender, before Chatfield made a furious comeback.

The Chargers reeled off four straight third-period goals — three in a three-minute span — to cut the lead to 6-4. Still, Steamboat's quick start was too much to overcome.

Steamboat's power play, which had been struggling before the break, showed signs of life, finishing 2 for 5. Goaltender Joey Haight stopped 16 shots.

Ruff, while a little uneasy about the last period, said he walked out of the locker room happy with the effort, especially considering the Sailors hadn't played in nearly three weeks.

"All in all, I'm happy with the way the team played for 40 minutes," he said. "We saw some things we need to improve. But we saw the work we've done over the break. Like I told them in the locker room, 'Don't worry about the last five minutes and put that behind us.'"

Steamboat (4-1-2) next plays at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Howelsen Ice Arena against Rampart.

Rampart leads the Peak Conference with a 5-2 record. A Steamboat win would put the team at the top of the conference in the early going.