R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Steamboat defeats rival Battle Mountain for first time

Between the second and third periods of the Steamboat Springs hockey team's game, Aretha Franklin's hit "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" began blaring from the Howelsen Ice Arena rafters.

Although it's doubtful the song's inspiration came from playing team sports, the message was appropriate Wednesday.

Steamboat defeated rival Battle Mountain, 3-2, marking the first time in the program's four-year history that the Sailors have beaten the Huskies. Steamboat knows if it wants to be considered one of the state's top teams, it will have to continue defeating programs regarded by many as among the best.

"We had revenge in our eyes the whole game after what happened last year," senior Tanner Grimes said.

Last year, the Sailors came close to beating the Huskies on the road, but Battle Mountain found the back of the net with less than a second remaining and won. The Huskies went on to finish second in the state, falling to Air Academy in the championship.

The story was similar Wednesday, when Steamboat surrendered a two-goal lead with 5 minutes, 28 seconds left in the final period. Battle Mountain got back in the game on two third-period goals -- one off the stick of Taylor Beairsto and the other off the stick of Derek Byron. Barrett Chow and Jason Funk were given the assists.

Last year, Grimes said, Steamboat would have gone on to lose a game such as this.

Not Wednesday. With 2:28 left in the game, senior Jon Reese took the face-off, dropped back toward the blue line and fired a shot on net. He missed. Grimes did not.

"Our face-off was designed to drop back," Grimes said. "Jon shot it low. I got the rebound and fired it in the five hole."

Sailors coach Dave Strang said he was pleased with how Steamboat played the final five minutes in what turned out to be a playoff type atmosphere. The arena's stands were packed, and the rival was making a rally.

"We wanted to see how they were going to do -- if they were going to fail or respond," he said.

On Wednesday, the Sailors came out physical, which was a change from their typical finesse attack. There were no penalties or goals from either team in the first 15 minutes. It was clean, aggressive hockey.

"We tried to talk about playing the body a little bit more," Strang said. "Typically, they aren't a team that likes to get hit."

Steamboat came out in the second and began to skate, scoring quickly. Grimes hung back behind Battle Mountain's defense, took a long pass from junior Jace Bonner and beat Battle Mountain goalie Foster Fox low on the left side.

Reese scored on the power play with 5:50 remaining in the second period off assists from Grimes and senior Sam Gary. The Sailors did a good job working the puck around the zone, allowing Reese to free himself up near the crease.

"We all anticipate where each other is going to be," Reese said about the play. "We had a lot of skilled individuals last year, but this year we are all so hungry."

Steamboat goalie Jeff Dawes turned away 12 of the 14 shots he faced, and Fox made 22 saves on 25 Steamboat shots on goal.

The Sailors improved to 6-0 this season with Wednesday's win. Steamboat faces defending state champion Air Academy at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Howelsen Ice Arena.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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