Huskies hockey escapes Steamboat with 5-3 victory
Special to the Daily
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Last goal wins the game.
The Battle Mountain High School hockey team came into Howelsen Ice Arena and narrowly held off a winless but hungry Steambaot Springs team Friday night to snag a win, the Huskies’ first since Dec. 13.
Battle Mountain captain Tanner Crisofulli netted the go-ahead goal with about 13 minutes left in the final period, and the Huskies tacked on a last-second empty-net goal to improve to 4-2.
The Sailors, now 0-9 this winter, never made things easy for Battle Mountain, though. Steamboat struck first blood in the opening minutes off a Colin Mussleman goal despite the Huskies’ relentless pressure on Sailors goalie Jackson Draper right off the bat.Perhaps Battle Mountain’s saving grace came in the final seconds before the opening-period horn when Michael Lange knotted it up at 1-1.
The team’s traded goals from then on, scoring two apiece in the second period before Crisofulli’s game-clincher.
“We had a lot of chances in the first period,” Huskies coach Dennis Hextall said. “We totally outplayed them, I thought, but we didn’t capitalize on those chances. If we don’t come back and tie that game in the first period with just 11 seconds left, it could have been a whole different game.”
Now about midway through the 2014-15 season, the Sailors have felt the anguish of a gutted roster from graduation in June. Steamboat lost 10 program anchors, while Battle Mountain is feeling a bit resurgent with its current 10-senior roster full of weapons like Crisofulli, Lange and Clayton Davis, to name a few.
Even with Steamboat’s depleted roster of just a few seniors and loads of freshmen and sophomores, Hextall was impressed with the Sailors’ tenacity on the ice from opening puck drop to the final buzzer.
“They’ve got a lot of good young players,” Hextall said. “They lost a whole bunch of seniors from last year and we have 10 on our team. That makes a big difference.”
Lange finished with two goals on the night, and Harrison Stevens tacked on one in the second period.
Steamboat was also plagued by arguably the roughest early-season schedule a new coach like Chris Campanelli could ask for. The Sailors opened with six straight road games, most against Front Range powers like Ralston Valley and Regis Jesuit.
Friday night at Howelsen Ice Arena was just the second away game of the Huskies’ season and their sixth overall. Now, it’s Battle Mountain’s turn to get used to some lengthy bus rides as the squad sits amidst a five-game road stretch of its own.
The Huskies will travel to Mullen (2-5) on Saturday for a 6:15 p.m. Game, then finish out the road stretch with trips to Monarch and Summit. Battle Mountain’s next home game is on Jan. 17 against Regis Jesuit.
But Hextall wasn’t too concerned with what the schedule looks like in the coming weeks. Escaping Steamboat with win No. 4 was reason to celebrate.
“I think anytime you win it has to be positive,” the coach said. “We’re trying to keep a very positive note around here. We’ll make mistakes but hopefully we’ll learn and move forward.”