Lord Byron lifts Huskies | VailDaily.com

Lord Byron lifts Huskies

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS ” Battle Mountain hockey is back in the Frozen Four for the fifth consecutive year.

And the Huskies will have a bunch of fans down in Colorado Springs to cheer the Huskies on toward an elusive state title ” if they haven’t already keeled over from cardiac arrest.

The Huskies punched their ticket to the Springs by blowing a 2-1 lead with 51 seconds left in regulation to Palmer before finally subduing the Rams in overtime 3-2 on the second of Derek Byron’s two goals Saturday in Steamboat Springs.

“It’s going to be awesome,” said Casey Kleisinger, who’s making his third trip to the semifinals. “We’re going to be pumped up and ready to go.”

Kleisinger scored the Huskies ‘first and Byron gave the Huskies a 2-1 lead. That seemed safe until Rampart scored with less than a minute to go.

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“We just brought them back in,” Huskies coach Gary Defina said. “We had been taking it to them throughout the game. We had it in their end most of the game. We had far more quality chances than they did. Their goalie really kept them in it. At the start of overtime, we just told them to keep taking it to them.”

Coulter Somes had a golden opportunity to end it in overtime, but his bid for the top shelf was denied. Byron also had a breakaway. His shot trickled through the Rampart goalie but stopped short of the line.

“That one didn’t make it, so I had to redeem myself,” Byron said.

Minutes later, Kleisinger got it at the top of the right circle and hit a streaking Byron on the left side. Byron deflected the pass in for the game winner and a massive celebratory dogpile.

“It was all a blur,” Byron said. “Casey fed it to me, great pass. I’m just glad it went in.”

While it was a lot more dramatic than the Huskies had hoped, a close win might help come Friday at 7 p.m. in the semifinals at the World Arena against Peak to Peak. Cheyenne Mountain takes on Cinderella Summit in the first semi.

“This win was a lot more meaningful because we won in overtime,” Kleisinger said. “If we won, 5-0, we wouldn’t have been as pumped up. We’re definitely a lot more prepared for the Frozen Four because of this game.”

Defina’s three stars were: 1) Byron, 2) Kleisinger and 3) Jonny Stevens.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14630 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

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