Huskies squeak by Steamboat
VAIL – Battle Mountain hockey beat Summit and Aspen to be crowned King of the Mountain at a tournament going by the same name up at Steamboat Springs last month.Wednesday night at Dobson, the Huskies made it a clean sweep of the ski towns, beating Steamboat – by the slimmest of margins.One second to be exact.With one tick remaining in regulation, Battle Mountain’s Austin Chow beat Sailors goalie Randy Rule on a breakaway to bring the Huskies all the way back from a 3-0 deficit for a 4-3 win.”I got the pass on the other side (from Jonathan Stevens) and I just started skating as hard as I could,” said Chow, who had a hat trick on the night. “I was going to rip it from the blueline. I looked up and saw 4.3 seconds left, so I decided to skate in a little further to give me a better shot. I snapped it upper glove.”The shot was true and on time and Chow careened toward the blueline, soon to be joined by 19 other jubilant Huskies.
“It was more relief than excitement,” Chow said. “‘Oh, thank God, it’s over. We got the W.’ The seniors on this team, we’ve never lost at Dobson. Coming out 3-1 (after two periods), we had to hold down the fort and protect our house.”Indeed, Battle Mountain has never lost on home ice with a mark of 26-0-2 in the last four years. That streak was in serious jeopardy Wednesday, and Battle Mountain has to feel fortunate to come away with the win.”There was definitely some nervousness, but there’s something about this team that they never give up,” Huskies coach Andy Hire said. “No matter what the score is, you always know they’re going to fight it out. There’s something about the personality of this team that likes to come from behind and they do it quite often.””A lot too often,” he added with an uneasy laugh.The emotion was at the opposite end of the spectrum in the Steamboat locker room.”What can you say to your team after a loss like that,” Sailors coach Dave Strang said. “We squandered a couple of opportunities that we’ve been talking about that we’ve been trying to improve on. At the same time, there were so many positives in that game.”
Hit with a 2-by-4One of those positives for Steamboat had to be the first period. The Sailors came into Dobson and hit the Huskies with a 2-by-4, scoring three goals in the first 10 minutes. To put this into perspective, opposing teams seldom score three goals in a game against Battle Mountain, much less lead 3-0.Steamboat’s Chris Baumann scored unassisted with 11:23 to go in the first on a power play. Dennis Dillon fed Brad Bonner, playing in his first game back from injury, for a 2-0 lead. When Sam Gary scored on an assist from Jake Stanford, the crowd at Dobson was shocked into silence, except for the cheers from the Steamboat partisans.”I think the guys were up to play this game,” Strang said. “They knew how much this game meant, having Battle Mountain being 5-0 and them beating (Cheyenne Mountain and Kent Denver). I think they realized the importance of this game and what this meant for us as a team.”Chow scored with 5:20 left in the first stanza to give the Huskies a flicker of hope, but the Huskies were struggling mightily against underdog Sailors, who had no intention of throwing in the towel.
Rule stopped 33 of 37 shots in a strong effort, and when a puck or two got by him he had some help from a goaltender’s best friend, the iron. In all, the Huskies outshot Steamboat, 37-17.Rally timeBattle Mountain finally showed some signs of life in the third when Derek Byron fed Brad Myers for a goal. Myers’ shot hit the right post, banked off Rule’s left leg and in to cut the lead to 3-2.Steamboat seemingly got a big break when Stevens was whistled for a two-minute minor with 3:52 remaining. But Steamboat couldn’t capitalize and that was the turning point of the game.Instead of killing off those two minutes, Steamboat found itself in its own end, fending off the Huskies’ attack. Casey Kleisinger threaded a beautiful pass to Chow for a shorthanded goal to tie it.
And then came Chow’s breakaway in the waning seconds.”It was huge,” Chow said. “It just shows the heart our team has, our fight in us and that we’ll never give up.” Ice ChipsBattle Mountain moved to 6-0 with the win, while Steamboat fell to 2-4. … The Huskies host Mitchell at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Bishop Machebeuf Saturday at 6 p.m. Steamboat Springs is down in Colorado Springs for Doherty and Air Academy Friday and Saturday, respectively. … Battle Mountain goalie Karl Eklund got the win with 14 saves. Huskies’ three stars from Hire: 1) Chow, 2) Myers and 3) the Huskies’ third and fourth lines. … Steamboat’s three stars from Strang: 1) Baumann, 2) Rule and 3) Bonner. … Strang, who used to be the director of Vail Junior Hockey, still had a sense of humor after the game. “Honestly, the clock was ticking when that puck poofed the net,” he said. “My job as a coach is to say, ‘No. There was no time left when the puck went in.'” … Fan of the game goes to Vail Pee Wee Daniel Westerberg who now knows fully that every second counts. It ain’t over ’til it’s over, Daniel.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Daily