West Side Auto wins championship

— The Steamboat Springs premier hockey league's version of March Madness came to a close Thursday with West Side Auto's 6-2 win against the Blind Pigs of Craig at Howelsen Ice Arena.

"Five years in the league, we were bound to win eventually," said Mike McGlone, West Side's team captain.

West Side got on the scoreboard with 6 minutes, 54 seconds left in the first period on a rebound goal by Joe Columbo. Craig goalie Steve Ivers gave up the puck on a booming shot from the point by West Side defenseman Drew Moon.

"Teamwork and never giving up, we just kept moving," McGlone said about what keyed the win, which was closer than the final score indicated.

In a league known for its parity, the any-given-Sunday syndrome took effect when Craig got on the scoreboard a minute later. Blake Abdella found himself open in the high slot before blasting the puck over the right shoulder of West Side goalie Bob Milne.

"Our defense has been playing great," Milne said. "As long as we stay out of the box and I keep the rebounds to a minimum, we have a shot."

Milne's words proved prophetic after West Side took the first penalty of the game at the 11:47 mark in the second period. The Blind Pigs capitalized with a rebound shot by winger Mark Samuelon. Abdella was given the goal on the tip-in.

Craig's Lance Scranton was penalized at the 7:25 mark of the second, giving West Side a chance to respond. Back-and-forth play was the norm for the game, but it was McGlone's crafty play that tied the game with less than three minutes left in the second period. McGlone found himself on the receiving end of clearing pass at the far end of the ice. Moving in on a two-on-one, West Side's Chris Hagen drew the Craig defenseman to the middle, and McGlone cleanly beat Ivers with a wrist shot.

With the score tied as the end of the second period approached, West Side's Jeff Larson, an import from Littleton, put home a bouncing puck for a 3-2 lead. Ivers could not settle the puck after an untimely turnover by Abdella, and with hammering shots from Hagen and Larson, West Side took the lead for good.

Missing four players, including Al German, Craig started to sputter and finally ran out of gas in the third. Craig usually fields three full lines and plays on a smaller sheet of ice. Both teams had 10 players Thursday.

When the Blind Pigs went down two men on penalties, Hagen made a move in front on Ivers and buried West Side's fourth goal. West Side completed the grand slam this year, taking the championship trophies for the spring, summer, fall and four- month long winter leagues.

McGlone scored again with 5:19 left in the game on a wrister from the right side.

Craig mounted a few attacks in the end, and an untimely turnover left Craig's Mike Arm--strong one-on-one with Milne.

Larson capped off the scoring for West Side, going top shelf off the backhand with 1:06 to go.

The tournament championship game brought the four-day round robin event to an end.

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