Hockey: Offensive-minded Steamboat downs Aspen
December 14, 2011
ASPEN – Shortly after Tuesday’s game in Aspen, Steamboat Springs head hockey coach Jeff Ruff offered a succinct critique of his team’s performance.
“We made too many small mistakes for my taste,” he said.
Two numbers likely made the experience a little more palatable, however: 40 shots on net and seven goals. Those figures translated into a lopsided Sailors win.
Steamboat (3-3) erupted for three goals in the final six minutes of the first period and three more in the early stages of the third to quash the Skiers’ momentum and secure a 7-4 victory.
“Overall, you’re always happy with a win,” Ruff said. “We just have to take care of the puck a little better in our zone. Then, I’ll be more happy.”
The Skiers (2-2) likely share that sentiment. Aspen’s back line was stout in back-to-back shutouts of Battle Mountain and Doherty last week. Tuesday, a slew of defensive breakdowns proved costly against opportunistic Steamboat.
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John Wharton broke a scoreless tie about 11 minutes into the opening period when he slipped a shot past Aspen goaltender Patrick Severy. Little more than one minute later, Christian Ramirez sped past a Skiers defender, swooped in front of the net and scored.
Boris Lindeneau gave Aspen life two minutes later. He beat a defender to a loose puck up the boards and skated in for an unassisted goal.
Teammate Beau Cameron was whistled for high sticking in the final minute of the period, however, and the Sailors capitalized on their man-up advantage; Lance Ostrom converted from close range just 24 seconds before the first intermission.
“We tried to do a little too much on our own and got off the team concept that helped us through the last two games,” Skiers head coach Al Butler said. “We took too many chances. You can get away with those against some of those other teams, but not against a team this skilled.”
Added Ruff: “I’m happy with how the guys came out and set the tempo for the game. I think we made Aspen play to our speed a little bit.”
Aspen pulled to within one on Garrett Goldsmith’s powerful strike two minutes into the second period, but Ostrom connected on another power play goal six minutes later. He fed Ramirez with a perfect pass on a 2-on-1 break, then cleaned up the rebound from a difficult angle before being checked to the ice and sliding into the boards.
Wharton likely put this game out of reach a mere 19 seconds into the final period. He stole the puck from a Skiers player in the neutral zone, sped the opposite way and went low for the shorthanded goal, stretching the lead to 5-2.
Matt Hale scored twice more for good measure, and the Sailors were never threatened down the stretch.
“We do spread it out and do like to move it wide and drive the net if possible. If not, get it in deep and go to work low,” Ruff said. “When we do that, we do play pretty well. … I do like the way the guys played once we got out of our zone.”
Lindeneau scored a second goal down the stretch for Aspen, which visits Summit at 5:15 p.m. Friday.
“We had a few breakdowns we normally don’t have, but it’s a good learning tool for us,” Butler said. “Now, we can go to work. Now, they know where they need to be to compete against these types of teams.”