Steamboat Springs Hockey team hopes to extend winning streak during weekend home stand. |

Steamboat Springs Hockey team hopes to extend winning streak during weekend home stand.

John F. Russell
Steamboat junior Quinn Morton fires a shot Saturday against Aspen. The Sailors went 2-0 in a pair of home games last weekend and play at home twice again this weekend.
Joel Reichenberger

— The new year has been kind to the Steamboat Springs High School hockey program as the Sailors have collected two wins in two outings to begin 2017.

The squad will look to extend its winning streak this weekend with key league games Friday against Air Academy (2-4, 0-2) and Saturday against Liberty (4-5, 2-3).

The Sailors are currently in second place in the Pinnacle League with a 4-2-1 overall record. The team is 3-1 in league play with its only loss coming to first-place Fort Collins back in December.

“I’m really happy with the way our guys came back after the break,” coach Ernie Thiel said. “We have a lot more chemistry than we did before the break.”

The coach said that new-found chemistry has allowed him to make some late-game line shifts that have helped spark some of Steamboat’s most recent success on the ice. Thiel said the team is starting to come together as a group, and he is hoping that will be reflected in this weekend’s games.

“It’s huge,” Thiel said of playing at home. “Playing at home is great for our players, for the fans of the team and for the other students who come to watch the game. It’s exciting to play in front of a home crowd, and we always look forward to it.”

The first game of the weekend will begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday with the Sailors hosting the Kadets from the Air Academy at the Howelsen Hill Ice Arena. The Kadets have dropped the last three games and will be looking to turn things around when they come to Steamboat to face the red hot Sailors.

Thief said he doesn’t normally evaluate opponents based on their records. He is expecting strong games from Air Academy and Liberty, a team Steamboat beat 3-1 earlier this season.

“They had a great goaltender, but I think they were just having a bad night,” Thiel said of the last time Steamboat faced Liberty. “They have a very good team, and I’m expecting another good game.”

The contest with Liberty will be the last of five home games for the Steamboat Springs hockey team. The Sailors will hit the road for games against Summit, Air Academy and Mullen next week.

Steamboat will return home Jan. 27 for a contest against Kent Denver and Jan. 28 against Standley Lake. The Sailors’ goal will be to stay within reach of league-leading Fort Collins. Those two teams will face one another Feb. 4 in Fort Collins.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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