Sailors hockey hints at epic season with dominant victory over Mullen
The Steamboat Springs High School hockey team scored a dozen goals in its home opener Friday night, dominating Mullen with a 12-1 victory.
Many people showed up to the Howelsen Ice Arena game night already pumped to witness the No. 2 Sailors play. By the time the intro and anthem finished, everyone was just about ready to break through the glass and get on the ice with them.
The entire arena went black as the Sailors and Mustangs lined up to step onto the ice. A mashup of pump-up jams blared through the speakers. People in the crowd took out their phones and illuminated the stands like they were at a concert. Red strobe lights started to blink on the far end of the arena. A Sailor silhouette shifted in the ominous glow. Smoke streamed, and fans screamed as skates hit the ice.
The lights came up, the starters were announced, and Alivia Warren belted the anthem, capping off an absolutely epic intro to the home opener.
“We were super hyped. Everyone was excited,” said junior defender Kellen Gormley. “And then we got a goal quick off the bat. Then it went on from there. It was great.”
Four minutes into the game, Steamboat senior Walker Ripley put his team on the board. Andrew Kempers took that as an invitation to score as many goals in a row as he could. Over the next two minutes, he added two goals. Five minutes later, he scored again.
Kempers dodged multiple Mustangs before finding himself mere feet in front of the goaltender. He faked right, then backhanded the puck past the goalie while losing his balance and following the puck into the net.
“It’s just something Andrew does,” said junior defender Weston Boese. “It wasn’t that surprising because it’s Andrew.”
Kempers’ three goals padded a seven-goal-first period. He scored one more in the second to lead all skaters with four scores. Ripley had a pair of goals, while Boese, Connor Chapman, Max Kenney, Max VanDeren, Kael McCarty and Tanner Hamilton each added one.
“It was my first high school goal, so it felt good,” Boese said.
Boese was given the player of the game viking hat in the locker room.
“He was busting his butt during every shift he had,” McCarty said. “He was busting up and down the ice, and he finally tucked one in. That’s why he got it.”
Even if Mullen isn’t the strongest team, Steamboat has proven they can beat the best. Already, they’ve won over defending champion Battle Mountain and 2021 runner-up Crested Butte.
After a couple years of average play, the team is still getting used to doing well and, at times, can get too confident.
Finding that balance between confidence and cockiness is one of the few things Steamboat wants to improve on, including penalties. The Sailors served 26 minutes of penalty time Friday. That’s half the game.
A pair of 4A mountain league opponents come to town over the next couple weeks, starting with Glenwood Springs on Jan. 14 and Aspen on Jan. 21. The game to watch will be when the Huskies seek revenge over the Sailors during a visit to Howelsen Ice Arena on Friday, Feb. 18.
Steamboat Springs 12, Mullen 1
M 0 1 0 – 1
SS 7 2 3 – 12
SS – Walker Ripley, 3:43
SS – Andrew Kempers, 4:10
SS – Kempers (Max Kenney), 5:20
SS – Kempers (Max VanDeren), 9:51
SS – Weston Boese (Kael McCarty), 10:30
SS – Connor Chapman (Kellen Gormley), PP, 14:03
SS – Ripley (Giovanni Demussis), 16:03
SS – Kenney (Tanner Hamilton), 0:52
SS – Kempers (Demussis), 7:15
M – Drew Truijllo, 9:07
SS – VanDeren (Hamilton), 3:02
SS – McCarty (Hamilton), 9:35
SS – Hamilton (Ripley), 14:38
Saves: M, Logan Clouthier 20. SS, Cade Kavanaugh 4.
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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