ASPEN - Within seconds of the opening faceoff, Aspen High School's Jack Doremus took the puck and stormed down the center.
His shot was blocked, but his aggressiveness set the tone for the rest of the match against Steamboat Springs.
With a relentless offense and some highlight saves from the goalkeeper, the Skiers hockey team scored four unanswered goals - including three in the second period - to down the Sailors, 4-1, Wednesday evening at Lewis Ice Arena.
Aspen (4-2) ended a two-game skid after beginning the season with three wins. The Skiers also avenged a Dec. 14 loss, 4-3, at Steamboat (3-4-1) in which head coach Al Butler said his squad let its opponent dictate play.
"We didn't have a different game plan," Butler said. "We wanted to be the aggressors from the start. Last time they were the aggressors, and we played a little bit of a wait-and-see game."
Butler's offense started in a flurry, but it was the Sailors who struck first just five minutes in, on their first shot.
Jarrett Walt wrapped around the left goal post, and Skiers goalkeeper Alex Parrish was late to block the shot.
"It was one of those shots where maybe Alex wasn't in the best position he needed to be, but sometimes those goals go in," Butler said.
Parrish added, "It was their captain, too. I was a little jittery before the game. I just tried to stay calm, and honestly, that was a great goal."
With five minutes left in the first period, Aspen's Arthur Kelso received a pass though the Sailors defense and found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper. He stopped just feet away, cut back right and found the net to even the score.
"Even though they scored the first goal, we still felt like we had control because we were still dominating the play," Butler said.
Aspen continued to find opportunities in the second. Within the first 30 seconds of the period, the Skiers created two quality chances, including one breakaway, but couldn't pull ahead.
After three minutes, Gus Gregory scored the go-ahead goal on a wide-open shot from the right side.
With three minutes left in the second, as Aspen piled on the chances, a shot by Doremus rebounded off the goalkeeper to his left, and the Skiers' Colter Robinson was in position to put the puck away.
"We talked before the game about putting pucks on the net," Butler said. "From the game we played in Steamboat (last month), we knew that their goalkeeper had a tendency to leave a lot of rebounds for us. We crashed the net really well. ... That was our goal: to make the goalkeeper make saves and get those rebounds."
Aspen scored again with one minute remaining in the second on what appeared to be a cross pass from the right side by Gregory. With multiple Skiers in front of the goal, the puck wasn't touched by a stick but tapped the skate of a Steamboat defender and rebounded into the net for a 4-1 lead.
With the match all but finished, Parrish made a few dazzling saves against a Sailors offense that caught Aspen on its heels.
"(Parrish) definitely came on and made some key saves for us throughout the whole game, not just one here and one there," Butler said. "A lot of those shots were quality shots during breakdowns we had. He was there for us."
Aspen held the edge in shots on goal until the third period, when Steamboat continued to press on offense. The match ended with the visitors holding the final edge in shots, 37-33, but Parrish's effort preserved the win.
"The win does a lot for us because they are a big team to beat," Parrish said. "It was good to see where we are at this point in this season. If we play every game like that, maybe put a couple more periods together, we should be good."
The win was the first of three home Foothills League games this week for Aspen. The Skiers, 1-1 in league play, next host Columbine at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.