Sailor hockey 2-0 after clobbering Aspen |

Sailor hockey 2-0 after clobbering Aspen

Steamboat Springs sophomore Nate Kelley leads an offensive attack in the third period against Aspen on Friday at the Howelsen Ice Arena. Kelley scored a goal in the Sailors' 5-2 win.
Austin Colbert

— There were many good things to talk about following Friday’s home opener against rival Aspen, but nothing put a bigger smile on Jack McNamara’s face than getting to talk about the Steamboat Springs High School student section.

“The student section is insane — best in the state. Shout out to our fans and students,” the junior forward said. “It’s absolutely unreal. You step onto the ice and you get goose bumps. It’s just a surreal feeling to step out there and know you have the best fans backing you up.”

The students were loud and raucous all game — even SSHS coach Chris Campanelli said it was one of the best crowds he’s ever seen — and they had reason to be as the Sailors’ hockey team rolled to a 5-2 win against Aspen (0-1) at the Howelsen Ice Arena.

“Every kid in there contributed tonight,” Campanelli said. “That was awesome. From head to toe, all the way up and down the board, I couldn’t be more proud.”

Beating Aspen is always enough for the Sailors, regardless of the score, but Friday’s dominating win will likely be something of an eye opener for teams across the state. Aspen, ranked No. 10 in the preseason poll, never seemed to truly have a chance against Steamboat’s aggressive offensive and dictating defense.

After an early feeling out process, the Sailors took a 1-0 lead on a goal by senior wing David Cropper with less than three minutes to play in the first period. Aspen responded with a goal midway through the second period, scoring on a power play after senior Bryce Sullivan was sent to the box for boarding.

Steamboat made up for it with its own power play goal in the final two minutes of the second period, McNamara’s put back giving SSHS a 2-1 lead heading into the final intermission.

“We had that five-minute major in the second, and that kind of deflated us, I thought,” Campanelli said. “We cut down on our penalties, we are going to be a much different team. But I loved seeing our powerplay. Very productive powerplay when we did have one.”

The final period was a disaster for the Skiers. Steamboat extended its lead to 3-1 less than three minutes into it on another McNamara goal. An Aspen penalty led to a second power play goal for the Sailors, this one by sophomore Nate Kelley. Sullivan, possibly trying to make up for his earlier boarding call, scored Steamboat’s fifth goal with just shy of 10 minutes to play.

Aspen did score one final goal, but it came with only 26 seconds remaining.

“The third period was huge for us,” McNamara said. “It was just a big win by everyone. We put the team together. We started to flow. Defense is coming together; offense is coming together. Everything is coming around.”

Following a 3-16 campaign last winter, the Sailors are now 2-0 this season and will get a chance to beat another top-10 team at 4:15 p.m. today, when they travel to Fort Collins to face No. 7 Resurrection Christian at the NOCO Ice Center.

“We’ll see what we can do on a recovery day,” Campanelli said. “We have a tough competitor tomorrow night in Resurrection Christian. We are looking forward to the challenge. They are always a big team to play.”

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert

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