Playoff hockey games are intense. They are even more intense when you face a league rival.
The Summit High School Tigers took on the Steamboat Springs Sailors on Friday, Feb. 25 in Steamboat for the 4A State Hockey Playoff quarterfinal.
The two teams met in their final regular season game on February 19. In that game, Zach Carleton scored the game-winning goal to give the Tigers the win, 4-3, with split seconds to play.
On Friday night, the game started with a lot of back and forth as the puck changed possession frequently between the two teams.
However, Summit struck the first blow as Boone Steinberg scored the game’s first goal. Steinberg found a loose puck in the neutral zone and broke away to face the Steamboat goaltender one-on-one. Steinberg tossed the puck past the Sailors goaltender to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Steinberg’s goal brought an influx of energy to the Tigers, but the Sailors tied the score at one goal a play as a puck blasted its way past Tigers goaltender Finn Schroder.
Towards the end of the first, Summit had a few chances on the power play and ran at the end of a 5-3 when Blaze Ebbinghaus scored on a fiery wrist shot.
Going into the first intermission, Summit led Steamboat 2-1.
Summit found himself in the penalty area a handful of times to start the new period. The Tigers killed the early penalties, but the Mariners found success late in the final penalty to level the score at two goals apiece.
The Mariners took a 3-2 lead when the team landed a series of rebounds off Schroder’s pads until one entered the net. After Steamboat’s third goal, the Sailors really started to dominate and carry the game as the Tigers looked a bit shocked.
The Tigers rallied to hold the score at 3-2 heading into the final period.
“We played a very good first half, I think,” said head coach JR Engelbert. “In the second half, as far as that went, we rode the emotional roller coaster a bit in the wrong direction as far as penalty shootouts go and let our emotions dictate that.”
The start of the third period was hotly contested by both teams as Summit searched for a goal and Steamboat looked to continue to increase the score.
Both teams had a good look at the net, but it was the Sailors who scored again on the power play six minutes into the third to extend their lead to 4-2.
A few minutes later, the Sailors scored their fifth goal of the game with 10 minutes left in the third period.
Summit didn’t back down, kept his energy high and looked for an answer. The Tigers played on the power play 5-3, but the Sailors worked hard to kill the penalty and maintain the team’s three-goal lead.
A sixth goal from Steamboat was the dagger for Summit as Steamboat sat on a 6-2 lead with almost three minutes remaining.
Ebbinghaus ended up scoring his second goal of the game, making it 6-3, but it wasn’t enough to claim victory.
Steamboat Springs closed out the game to win 6-3 and advance to the 4A State Playoff Semifinals, where it will face Cheyenne Mountain’s winner against Aspen.
The Tigers left the ice with their heads held high, returning a final salute to friends and family who traveled to Steamboat to support the team one last time this season.
Summit finished its season with an 11-8-1 record and will graduate 10 seniors.
“I think the season as a whole was a huge success – the way the team came together, the way they looked after each other, the way they became a family,” said Engelbert. “Obviously for the seniors it’s emotional to play that last game, but I think a lot of them were able to hold their heads up high knowing they left everything they had there, and everyone else too.”