Hockey: Steamboat holds off Aspen |

Hockey: Steamboat holds off Aspen

Luke GrahamSteamboat Springs Pilot & TodayAspen, CO Colorado
Aspen's Trey Robinson attempts to move the puck out of the Aspen zone during Friday night's hockey game at Howelsen Hill.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Steamboat Springs goaltender Jesse Draper found out he’d be starting in net for the first time this season on Thursday evening. And it wasn’t like Friday’s game with Aspen wasn’t big. The two teams each came in undefeated, battling for the coveted King of the Mountain Cup presented to the top mountain town school among Steamboat, Aspen, Battle Mountain and Summit. Draper did everything he could – including six key stops on a late 5-on-3 – in helping Steamboat to a 4-3 win and rights to the cup. “I’m always nervous,” said Draper, who had four starts last season. “It was just all focus. I like the pressure and embrace the pressure.” Draper stopped 31 of 34 shots he faced and was at his best in the third period. Steamboat had a 3-1 lead going into the third period and looked like it would cruise to victory. But the Sailors rode the fine line of aggressiveness and sin binnery. Steamboat picked up two early penalties in the third period, the latter giving Aspen a 5-on-3 for 57 seconds. Draper did what he could, killing off the first of the two penalties before Aspen’s Colter Robinson put in a rebound. Two minutes later, Trey Robinson scored on another power play for Aspen, knotting the score at 3. “We told the boys we’re still in this game,” Aspen coach Al Butler said. “We knew if they scored next, it would put a damper on the bench.” Steamboat, however, got the go-ahed goal with 1 minute, 58 seconds left in the third. Quinn Cain and Michael Samuelson had a 2-on-1, when Cain ripped a shot off of Skiers goalie Alex Parrish. Samuelson crashed the net and pounded the rebound home to give the Sailors the lead for good. Draper made three saves in the last minute, and Steamboat improved to 3-0. “I couldn’t be more happy,” first-year Steamboat coach Brent Tollar said. “This is a great place to start.” Initially, it looked like Steamboat would run away with the game. Jackson Perry and Matt Hale bookended goals around a Willy Doremus goal to give Steamboat a 2-1 first-period lead. Hale rifled a wrister early in the second to give Steamboat a 3-1 lead, before the penalties caught up with the Sailors. Luckily, the team had Draper in net. “It was spectacular,” Draper said. “I love bringing home that trophy.”

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