Sailors hockey works towards improvement for next season |

Steamboat Springs High School hockey juniors work towards improvement for next season

Steamboat Springs High School junior Tanner Ripley duels with Battle Mountain’s Jensen Rawlings for the puck on Tuesday, Feb. 5 at Howelsen Ice Arena. (Photo by Leah Vann)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Three Steamboat Springs High School juniors will help the Sailors set sail for a bright future on the ice.

In the final seconds of the game against Summit last week, the Sailors tied the game up with 56 seconds to go.

“Oh, I stepped on the ice and said we’re scoring right here, don’t even worry about it,” Sailors junior David Thiel said.

Steamboat hockey
Nov. 30: at Dakota Ridge, L 6-0 Dec. 1: at Cherry Creek, L 9-2 Dec. 7: vs. Crested Butte, L 6-2 Dec. 8: vs Crested Butte, W 5-3 Dec. 11: at Summit, W 5-2 Dec. 15: at Glenwood Springs, L 3-2 Dec. 21: at Aspen, L 4-0 Jan. 4: vs. Chaparral, L 4-1 Jan. 5: vs. Aspen, L 4-2 Jan. 18: vs. Battle Mountain, L 8-1 Jan. 19: vs. Mullen, L 3-1 Jan. 25: at Fort Collins, L 8-1 Jan. 26: at Palmer, W 3-2 Jan. 30: at Battle Mountain, L 8-1 Feb. 1: vs. Summit, W 5-4 Feb. 2: vs. Glenwood Springs, L 4-3 Feb. 5: vs. Battle Mountain, L 5-3 Feb. 8: at Denver East, 7:15 p.m. Feb. 9: at Colorado Academy, 8:30 p.m. Feb. 15: vs. Mountain Vista, 7:45 p.m.

All three juniors, Thiel, Tanner Ripley and Griffin Maltby, were on the ice with Quinn Dorris and Matthew Kempers.

Dorris scored the game-winning goal in 13.5 seconds, and the game remains a favorite memory of the season.

Ripley, Maltby and Thiel play different roles that complement each other perfectly on the ice. Ripley, the team’s leading scorer, has nine goals and seven assists on the year. He’s softspoken but a well-respected lead by example leader.

“For me, it’s just improving from last year,” Ripley said. “Last year, all three of us were lower level. Now, it’s our time to step up, and I want to embrace that role and put the puck in the net and try to keep the team going.”

Maltby has four goals and five assists as the second leading-scorer and is noted as the most spirited, the pre-game motivator.

“I try to get people fired up,” Maltby said.

Maltby is also key passer on the team, often putting Ripley in the right place at the right time. Maltby believes his different approach to attacking the net this year has worked for him on the scoring end.

“I’m trying to go wide a lot, and I usually try to go inside,” Maltby said. “I started going outside, but I’ve just been sniping short side.”

Thiel is the spokesperson of the three but, also, the comedic relief a team needs to keep things light during a disappointing 4-11 season. The Sailors have lost six games by more than four goals, but the rest have been tighter contests where they’ve fallen short.

Most of the Sailors’ goals have come in the second and third period. The Sailors have only scored nine goals total in the first period out of their 15 games. They’ve scored 13, and 12 of their goals in the second and third periods, respectively, but they’ve allowed their opponents double the amount of points in each period.

“We are a third period team, a late-game team,” Maltby said. “We come out flat a lot, and that’s where we get beat most of the time.”

When the Steamboat hockey team (4-11) hosted Battle Mountain (7-4-2) on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Howelsen Ice Arena, the players recognized that they needed to light the scoreboard early. Unfortunately, the Sailors fell short, losing 5-3, but the game was a tighter contest than their last meeting with the Huskies, where they lost 8-1.

But Ripley answered their prayers, slapping the puck through a small gap at the bottom left side of the net to kick off the game 1-0 for the Sailors.

Parker Nash responded for the Huskies one minute and 20 seconds later to tie it up, 1-1 during the first period. Harry Green and Bronson Fiore added a pair of goals to lift the Huskies to a 3-1 lead in the second period.

Within the first 10 seconds of the third period, though, Wyatt Boatright lit the scoreboard with another goal for the Sailors to put them in contention 3-2.

The Sailors took advantage of the power play following an interference call on the Huskies. Maltby fired a shot from a deep wide corner to tie up the game on a power play goal 3-3.

Later in the third period, Fiore added his second goal to put the Huskies on top again 4-3, and Green added another short-handed for a 5-3 lead that the Huskies held until the end.

It was another close loss for the Sailors, but the sparks came from the same core of Sailors that will put the wind in the sails for next year’s season.

“We’re doing a lot of team-oriented drills,” Ripley said. “Trying to build up next year, we’re all trying to work harder in our game right now. Obviously, it’s not gone the we wanted, but we want to get better.”

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.

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