Summit Tigers hockey wins with last-second goal in come-from-behind battle against Crested Butte
On Wednesday, Jan. 26, the 5-6 Summit Tigers hockey team traveled to Crested Butte in order to play the last game in a two-game league series with the Titans.
Back on Dec. 18, the Tigers lost at home to the Titans, 5-2, so Summit was eager to get a win against Crested Butte and put an end to its two-game losing streak.
The game started with an early goal from the Titans. Five minutes into the first period, the Titans offense was able to slip the puck past Matthew Tater in goal. After the Titans goal, numerous hits were exchanged by the two league rivals with many instances of players being slow to get up afterward.
Near the end of the first period, the Titans went on a five-on-three power play, which resulted in a slap shot in open space from the Titans that made its way past Tater to put the Titans up 2-0 at the end of the opening period.
“The long bus ride to Gunnison had quite a bit to do with our slow start,” head coach JR Engelbert said. “Intermission was really about refocusing everyone. We took that long bus ride to go and do a job, and that was to win a hockey game.”
In the second period, the Tigers saw more time in the offensive zone than in the first.
Summit got its chance in its own five-on-three power play, and Hank Kasch found the back of the net in order to bring the deficit within one with eight minutes remaining in the second period.
After the goal from Kasch, the Tigers continued to dominate possession of the puck and went on another power play. However, it was Crested Butte that would fire the last punch in the second, scoring a third goal to go up 3-1 leading into the final period.
The Tigers were in no mood to let the game slip by and came out ready to make a jump on the Titans lead after the second intermission.
Cassius Bradford scored on a power play goal to open the fresh period to make the score 3-2, but there was still the sense that the momentum was on the Titans side of the ice.
That changed when the Tigers were able to execute on another power play, showing just how strong their power play unit is. This time, defenseman Blaze Ebbinghaus sent a blistering shot past the Titans goalie to even the score and silence the arena.
The rest of the period was a tension-filled battle as both teams tried to find ways to score. Crested Butte allowed Summit to get plenty of looks, but they were all unsuccessful.
With the clock draining down to under a minute, it looked like the game would be sent to overtime, but the Tigers had plans to get it done in regulation as Kasch maneuvered the puck around Titans defenders to send it to Boone Steinberg in front of the net. With a wrist shot, Steinberg sent the puck past the Titans goalie with 47.9 seconds remaining.
The Tigers closed out the remaining seconds of the game to shut out the Titans in the third period and get their sixth win of the season and second in league play.
“The team battled back as a unit and not as individuals, and it’s ultimately what led to us winning the game,” Steinberg wrote in a text message after his game-winning goal.
“Everybody kind of knew at (the end of the second period that) we were doing a lot of good things and playing well as a team,” Engelbert said. “We knew if we came out in the third period, and gave the same level of effort, that we were going to come out on top.”
The Tigers will now play two games at home, hosting Aspen at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, and Battle Mountain at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29.
Engelbert thinks the team has grown since it lost to Aspen and Battle Mountain earlier in the season, but it will be a battle like every league matchup.
“I think if we can pull off both games this weekend, that we are starting to make a lot of noise heading into the latter part of the season,” Engelbert said.
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