The Steamboat Wranglers fired up the fans and swept their home series with the Wichita Junior Thunder, Oct. 19-21.
It was Wichita’s first game in action, after a long bus ride across Kansas and then up into the mountains of Northwest Colorado. Game one was quick work from Steamboat, finishing with a 6-2 victory.
Game two was a pink pastel affair with the Wranglers in special pink jerseys, and the referees colorful as well. The game was a benefit for the Gloria Gossard Breast Care Center at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. The jerseys were auctioned off to the fans at the end of the game.
Jordan Belley was back in net for Steamboat with Bronson Sudberry taking his turn for the Thunder. Wichita took the first goal at 12:19 into the first on a back and forth deflection on the power play. Quinn O’Reilly got the point with assists from Sebastian Lind and Jack Lebar. This would be the only score for the Thunder in Saturday’s game.
The Wranglers answered at 5:18 when Dalton Eagle Bear gained control of the puck in the corner and had some fancy maneuvers to get to the front of the net where he beat the goalie low in the corner. Assists from JJ Landers and Sebi Culver. Eagle Bear scored again in the second with the short-handed goal, no assist. Then 16:45 into the third, Captain Avery Albert intercepted a pass at center ice and carried it I over the blue line. He ripped a shot, Landers deflected the rebound behind the net and passed it to Edvin Sollander for the backdoor goal. The last goal for the Wranglers was well into the third period when Kody Goodwin passed from blue line to blue line with Tristen Wells, who fumbled it a bit, but gained control behind the D to beat the goalie five hole. Final score, 4-1.
Sunday’s game three was unbelievable. Ian Young was in at goalie for Steamboat with Sudberry back for the Thunder.
The Wranglers meant business, and especially Andrew Demorat, who scored right away at :18 seconds into the first period. Demorat took the quick shot straight down the ice and the rebound went in. Assists from Tyrell Bourk (on his birthday), and Edvin Sollander.
The joy and happiness didn’t last for long as Wichita answered with a goal at 18:18, with Quinn O’Reilly taking the point off the assist from Sebastian Lind.
In the second, Demorat got his second goal at 10;23 on the penalty kill, with assists from Albert and Wells. Wranglers took the 2-1 lead.
Then Wichita caught fire with the plan that they weren’t getting back on the bus without a W. Tyler Inlow scored (assists from Cortin Knapp and Braeden Thomas), just as his brother’s name was called to do Shoot To Win to try to win a pair of Wrangler jeans from the historic F.M. Light & Sons store in downtown Steamboat Springs. Just :33 seconds later, Carson Weingartner scored with an assist again from Knapp, while Steamboat’s Jack Rousseau was in for four minutes for slash and cross check. End of the second and Wichita had the 3-2 lead.
Start of the third had Rousseau still in the box and Wichita’s Corey Steinbarger scored at 18:12 with assists from Thomas Srsha and Carson Weingartner. 4-2 Wichita.
But Demorat wasn’t finished. The seasoned Wrangler scored a natural hat trick with assists from Albert and Sollander. Wichita still had the 4-3 lead.
Nicklas Oda had an interference penalty and Wichita scored again at 7:59, taking the 5-3 lead. Just over two minutes later, Carson Weingartner had the unassisted goal at 5:45 to go in the third. Wichita had the 6-3 lead and things were looking glum for the Wranglers. Heavy chirping was going on, with the Wranglers answering, “It isn’t over!”
Bam, were they right.
The clock was ticking and at 2:09 the Wranglers had had enough. Tyrell Bourk scored on his birthday, with the assist from Albert. Right after that, it was JJ Landers with the assist from Sebi Culver and Nick Oda. And then at 1:18, Jack Rousseau got the goal from Ryan Brown. The Wranglers tied it up 6-6 with three goals in :47 seconds. We’re going into OT!
Overtime had three on three. The battle was on but then Bourk took a hooking penalty, and had to watch as Wichita had four players against three Wranglers. Then Wichita took a tripping penalty at :38 to go in OT. Bourk was back out just a few seconds later and blasted out of the box. Seven seconds left on the clock and the faceoff was in front of the Wichita net. The puck went to Eagle Bear who sunk it in so fast your head would spin.
The buzzer sounded and the hometown crowd went wild. The Wrangler score happened with 4/10ths of a second left in overtime. The hometown team won it 7-6.
Quotes from the players:
Andrew Demorat: “It was a great weekend. The boys picked up the sweep. Came back from a three-goal deficit and took it to OT and buried them.”
Avery Albert: “It doesn’t matter how much time is left in the game, our motto of the team is to always work hard and keep going to the last second. Obviously it pays off with .04 seconds left in OT and we walk away with the victory. I mean, it’s huge. Every point is massive in the mountain division.
As long as we put our heads down and keep working, we’ll come out with victories like that.”
Steamboat is 3-6 on the season, while Wichita is 0-3. The Wranglers are off to Dallas to play the Snipers, Oct. 26-28, while Wichita is headed to El Paso.
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