Steamboat Springs High School hockey team falters late |

Steamboat Springs High School hockey team falters late

Luke Graham

— If one time is an aberration and two times are a trend, three times creates concern.

The Steamboat Springs High School hockey team could be walking into the holiday break undefeated. But for the third straight game, the Sailors relinquished a third-period lead, and this time it resulted in the team’s first loss of the season, a 4-2 defeat to Resurrection Christian.

"I think it's finding that constant swagger, just finishing the end of our games," Steamboat coach Benny Tollar said. "I'm glad we came back and regained our composure. I see that as a positive. But once we got it, we have to keep going."

Steamboat (3-1-1) gave up third-period leads to Aspen and Chatfield but managed to skate away from those games with a win and a tie.

There would be no such luck Saturday at Howelsen Ice Arena against Resurrection Christian, the best team Steamboat has played. The Cougars (6-1) made the Final Four last season, and despite losing 11 seniors, they looked every bit the class of the Foothills Conference.

"This is a totally different team," Cougars coach Jake Pence said. "It's a totally different makeup."

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Still, Resurrection Christian proved to be the most physical and fastest team Steamboat has played. It showed in the first period. The Cougars' Garrett Wood and Tanner Ulland broke out of their own zone after a faceoff, their speed catching Steamboat off guard.

Ulland found Wood, who deposited a slick backhand shot for a 1-0 lead.

The Sailors, though, found footing in the second period. Each team started taking penalties, and the Sailors were more than willing to capitalize.

With a brief 4-on-3 power play, Christian Ramirez found Jarret Walt at the top of the right circle for a one-timer and a 1-1 tie.

Then, just minutes into the third period, Ramirez pounced on a rebound to give Steamboat a 2-1 lead.

But Wood added a power play goal with 6 minutes, 30 seconds left in the game to tie it at 2. Conor Sanders got the decider, a snipe from just above the right circle.

"We were just steady," Pence said. "We were not too high and not too low. We were able to find some simplicity in chaos."

Steamboat took a penalty in the last two minutes — its 10th of the game — ending any drama before time could run out.

Despite the loss, Steamboat showed well in its biggest challenge of the pre-holiday season. The Sailors enter the break knowing they can play with a Final Four team.

"I think we're close," Tollar said. "We're right there. The kids are figuring it out. That was the most complete game we played in terms of three periods."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email