Regis Jesuit holds on to outlast Steamboat hockey
Steamboat Springs — Maybe the Regis Jesuit hockey players should take up bull riding, because they know how to make the most of eight seconds.
That’s how long it took for them to finally distance themselves from Steamboat Springs High School on Saturday at Howelsen Ice Arena, a 5-2 win for the Raiders.
“Those are sort of the timings of the game of hockey,” Regis Jesuit coach Dan Woodley said. “Sometimes it works, and for the most part for the rest of that game, it didn’t work. I thought the Sailors played an excellent defensive game and made it very hard for us to execute.”
It was a pair of third-period goals by Regis Jesuit only eight seconds apart that broke a long deadlock to keep the Raiders, ranked No. 2 in the state by chsaanow.com, undefeated heading into the winter break.
Steamboat, ranked No. 7, had its share of chances to pull the upset but couldn’t find enough offensive rhythm when it needed to down the stretch.
“We are going to lick our wounds,” Sailor coach Chris Campanelli said. “We are tired. We are beat up, of course. There were some hurt kids. But you have to learn to play through adversity.”
Steamboat knew what it was dealing with before the game.
Regis Jesuit was a state semifinalist last season, winning 19 games, and had been scoring at will through its 5-0 start this season. But against the Sailors and senior goalie Jackson Draper, finding the back of the net was easier said than done for the first two periods.
The Raiders did get an early goal off a power play about seven minutes into the game, but Steamboat answered a few minutes later when senior captain Harry Wilson scored while the Sailors had a two-man advantage.
Shots were had by both teams in the second period, but the defenses held, and the game remained tied at a goal each heading into the final intermission.
“The Sailors had been playing very tight around the net, and it was hard to get passes through,” Woodley said. “They were clearing the front of the net, and those backdoor passes, those fancy plays we have had success on all year, they weren’t there. They were strong defensively and not giving us those.”
Less than three minutes into the third period, Steamboat’s stout defense was finally bucked off the bull. Two goals in eight seconds gave Regis Jesuit a 3-1 lead — the second goal coming so quickly after the faceoff most in attendance were still figuring out what happened with the first goal.
The Sailors regained their composure rather quickly, however, with senior David Cropper putting a shot past the Raiders’ goalie only 30 seconds later to make it 3-2, a wild swing of emotions after a long, stagnant tug-of-war battle.
Despite a pair of minor penalties against Regis Jesuit, Steamboat’s offense simply couldn’t click over the final 10 minutes. Instead, the Raiders tacked on two goals in the final two minutes to put the game to rest.
“I’ll tell you what, those guys, they gave it their all. They battled. They never quit. We hung with the giant,” Campanelli said. “You know any given night it’s going to go either way. We proved we could play with anybody tonight. I’m real proud of how we are going into our break.”
Steamboat, coming off a 3-16 season, will head into its holiday hiatus with a 4-2 record. The Sailors are off until Jan. 8 when they host Columbine.
There will be many more opportunities for Steamboat to get a win over one of the state’s elite.
The Sailors will host current No. 5 Dakota Ridge on Jan. 15, travel to top-ranked Monarch Jan. 30, host No. 4 and defending state champion Cherry Creek Feb. 13, before finishing the regular season at home against No. 3 Ralston Valley Feb. 19.
“I’ve been ranking Steamboat high every week in the overall rankings because I know the quality of play up here and the quality of coaching,” Woodley said. “You are always in for a battle when you come to Steamboat. I think it’s certainly going to be a benefit to us. I hope it’s a benefit to them as well. They were competitive the whole game and should take a lot from that.”
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