From nail-biter to stunner

Quick strikes send Steamboat past Moffat County in Midget hockey game

In a matter of 15 seconds the Moffat County and Steamboat Springs Midget hockey game went from a 0-0 nail-biter to a 2-0 home crowd silencer.

At the start of the third period the echoes of "Bulldogs" from the Moffat County huddle had just finished resonating through Loudy-Simpson Ice Arena when Steamboat Springs' Austin Fedewa fed Miranda Schrock the puck from the face off and Schrock shot it past a surprised Bulldog goalie.

"I wasn't expecting such a quick break," goalie Bryce Ponikvar. "I had barely settled into the crease and boom, they scored."

As quick as it took for the first goal, Steamboat's Patrick Clayton fed Fedewa off the ensuing face off for another goal.

"I think sometimes we start the periods lazy because we think we have so much time to get going," Ponikvar said. "The guys have to be ready."

Moffat made a comeback attempt, out-shooting Steamboat 9-5 in the third period, including a goal from Zach Beckwith, but the two quick goals at the start of the period were enough for Steamboat to claim a 2-1 win.

Bulldog coach Darin Hickey thought his players were sluggish all night.

"We had plenty of ice time over break," he said. "But it's not the same as playing an opponent and I didn't think we had much intensity."

Moffat County had beat Steamboat 2-1 and 3-2 previously and Steamboat came out ready to reverse those outcomes. The visitors out-shot Moffat County 11-6 in the first period. Ponikvar consistently made quick saves to keep the game scoreless in the first.

His counterpart, Ian Berry, matched Ponikvar with several dazzling saves in the second.

"Both goalies played well," Hickey said. "Bryce kept us in the game."

The Bulldogs picked up intensity in the second and third periods, out-shooting Steamboat 18-11, including several breakaway chances.

"We were rusty on our skates and with the puck," Bulldog captain Mark Oxley said. "We had opportunities but it was sloppy out there."

All three contests between the teams have been close between the teams and the stats told the same story on Thursday night. The Bulldogs were penalized 11 times to Steamboat's 10. The Bulldogs had 24 shots-on-goal to Steamboat's 22.

At the end of the game the teams showed there was no love lost when punches were thrown after the final whistle. Four penalties, three for Moffat and one for Steamboat, were handed out after the game was over.

"It's Steamboat, so the guys know most of them and it's a rivalry," Hickey said. "I hope it had something to do with our guys not taking to losing very well and they'll be ready next time."

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