Vail Valley preps: Huskies down Sailors in the third
VAIL – Happy Senior Night, Battle Mountain hockey.
The Huskies made it a good one with three third-period goals for a 5-2 win against Steamboat Springs Saturday night at Vail’s Dobson Arena. The win bolstered Battle Mountain’s quest to make the postseason, while handing the visiting Sailors their first loss in Foothills Conference play.
“I (play) them in soccer and hockey, so it’s so sweet to win,” said Huskies senior Jack Sunderland, who assisted on all three third-period goals. “It’s my third win against them this year.”
Saturday night’s game came down to 5-on-3 situations in the third period. Battle Mountain capitalized on its advantage with what would be the game-winner with 8:35 left, Sunderland to sophomore Bjorn Bredeson. Meanwhile Steamboat was on the two-man advantage for the final 3:03 of the game and could not find the back of the net.
“We’ve worked a lot on 5-on-3,” said Sailors coach Jeff Ruff, who team fell to 10-2 overall and 6-1 in the Foothills. “(Battle Mountain) did a good job of clearing the pucks out. I think we rushed shots that we didn’t need to take. It puts us in a position of allowing the D to clear the puck. But we’ve got to sink those.”
While there was a cast of heroes for the Huskies in those final three minutes, blueliner Rudi Baldwin did a superb job of tying up the puck along the boards and wasting precious ticks, and Huskies goalie Steve Parra was big in key moments.
“He’s really beared down, gotten into his element,” said Battle Mountain senior Jordan Goldstein, who had a big night of his own with a hat trick. “Steve has claimed his spot as a senior, and I’m so proud of him because he’s in there with confidence.”
Steamboat’s top line of Jake Bearss, Lance Ostrom and John Wharton did the job earlier, giving the visiting Sailors a 2-1 lead after one period. Ostrom scored on a nifty backhander to open the night and Bearss somehow snuck his shot through the near-side pads of Parra with 1:05 left in the first.
But Battle Mountain used home ice to its advantage, matching the Sailors’ top line with Daniel Westerberg, Conner Serba and Summers Baker. While Huskies coach Gary Defina was quick to point out “that doesn’t make the boxscore,” those three helped silence Steamboat the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Goldstein was beginning his goal-scoring jag. The Vail Mountain senior – Battle Mountain hockey has players from all four Eagle County high schools with athletic programs – buried a nice pass from Miguel Rodriguez in the first period. In the second, he struck on the power-play on a feed from Mike Jones.
With 9:35 left in the third, Goldstein was on the receiving end of a checking-from-behind penalty that gave the Huskies 1:50 of 5-on-3 time. Sunderland to Bredeson converted there.
“Rudi (Baldwin) moved it to me and I had open ice,” Sunderland said. “I moved it down. (Bredeson) was sitting in front and goal.”
It was the same combination with 5:37 left in regulation that gave Battle Mountain a 4-2 lead. Then, the Huskies weathered Steamboat’s 5-on-3 with Goldstein getting an empty-netter with 21 seconds remaining.
“You don’t want to miss, that’s for sure,” Goldstein said of his third and final score.
Steamboat remains very much in the hunt for the Foothills title tied with Regis, Chatfield and Standley Lake for first place with 12 points. The Sailors have a huge weekend ahead as they are at Regis Friday and then home for Ralston Valley, last year’s state runner-up, on Saturday.
Battle Mountain (5-8, 3-4), with the win, moved up in the chase for one of the Foothills Conference’s eight playoff spots. The Huskies, who sit in the eighth and final spot, are at Aspen on Wednesday.
Between the second and third periods, the Huskies honored their seniors – Baker, Baldwin, Chris Davis, Goldstein, Matt Granzow, Jones, Otto Jordan, Aaron Lewis, Parra, Rodriguez, Sunderland and Westerberg.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.