King comes up big in net in Steamboat’s loss to Vail Mountain
River King squats when he sees a threat. Monitoring potential attacks from between the pipes, he raises his goalkeeper stick next to and in front of his face, taking up as much room in net as possible.
Aside from a tournament in the fall, King had never played goalie. Despite his lack of experience in net, King had no fear and no hesitation in Tuesday’s season opener. He made some huge saves for Steamboat Springs High School, but Vail Mountain still pulled out the 7-4 victory at Gardner Field.
“You can’t have fear and play goalie,” King said. “It’s just not how it works. You just got to do your best for the team and sacrifice for the team. That’s what it’s all about.”
King astonished the crowd with two huge saves in the third quarter. The Sailors faithful watched in awe as King got his body and his stick in front of high-velocity shots. His defenders couldn’t clear the ball though, so the Gore Rangers kept peppering him with shots. Finally, one went in, pushing the lead to 4-2 with 9:15 left in the third.
“We needed more goalies in the program and thought River could do a great job. He really showed his leadership and his team player mentality by stepping up to the challenge,” Steamboat head coach Neill Redfern said. “He really did fantastic. He stopped a lot of doorstep shots that should have been goals. The score could have been a lot worse had he not played such a great game.”
The Gore Mountain Rangers started to thrive again in the second half as a deep grey cloud opened up on Gardner Field. With the field slick with the falling sleet, they extended their lead even further.
With 2:23 left in the third, a Vail Mountain attacker caught a pass on King’s doorstep. All the Gore Ranger had to do was drop the ball behind the Sailor’s netminder to push the lead to 5-2.
“I got the low shots pretty well, the ground shots. And I made a lot of stops right on the crease,” King said of his performance. “Next game, I want to work on the higher shots, because I slipped a few times on those.”
The Sailors offense had a pair of quick goals in the second while the sun was still shining.
Midway through the quarter, the Sailors were down 3-0. Junior Kellen Adams didn’t have any room in front of him, so he just made it. He plowed into the Vail Mountain defender in front of him, pushing closer to the goal with each stride. His aggression caught the rest of the Gore Rangers off guard, so once he did away with his one defender, he had an open shot on net.
His powerful forehand found the net 5 minutes and 23 seconds into the second quarter. The goal turned the momentum in the Sailors’ favor. Twenty nine seconds later, Ben Schott scored off a pass from Aiden Story.
In the fourth, Schott scored again, as did junior Tommy Meissner.
“We have a lot of players that we think can score this year,” Redfern said. “My hope is that while certain guys may initiate the offense, the scoring will be spread among the guys that are in the right place because we are moving the ball and finding the open player.”
Steamboat has nine more games scheduled between now and June 12. The team is stacked with a dozen seniors and is looking to replicate the deep playoff run from 2019. Two years ago, the squad was 10-0 in the league and made it to the state quarterfinals. Of course, the Sailors, and everyone else, are completely different from two years ago. Anything could happen.
Vail Mountain 7, Steamboat Springs 4
VM 2 1 2 2 – 7
SS 0 2 0 2 – 4
VM – Goal, 8:00
VM – Goal, 5:30
VM – No. 2 goal, 5:30
SS – Kellen Adams, 6:37
SS – Ben Schott (Aiden Story), 6:08
VM – No. 1 goal, 9:15
VM – No. 3 goal, 2:23
VM – Goal, 10:05
SS – Tommy Meissner, 5:37
VM – No. 3 goal, 5:30
SS – Schott, 2:58
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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