Chix with Stix drop puck at Steamboat tournament

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— The Chix with Stix started a decade ago with nine women in Steamboat Springs who were interested in playing hockey.

At least 60 women now make up the rosters of three different teams that call Howelsen Ice Arena home, but the Chix still represent the highest level of women's hockey played locally.

The Chix are a member of the "A" division, the highest level of women's hockey played in the state.

Beginning Friday, the six teams that make up the "A" league will be in Steamboat Springs to participate in the three-day "A" Division State Hockey Tournament at Howelsen Ice Arena.

It is the second time Steamboat has hosted the tournament.

"We've got the nicest and newest facility of all the places we play in the league," team member Cathy Wiedemer said. "Everybody loves to come to Steamboat."

The Chix enter as the No. 6 seed at 6-17-1 overall and will open play against No. 2 seed Aspen on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Steamboat comes into the state tournament after losing two close games to Breckenridge and Vail over the weekend. The Chix fell 3-2 to Breckenridge in overtime on March 22 and 3-1 to undefeated Vail on March 23.

The Chix scored the first goal against Vail but couldn't upset the Breakaways.

Pool play in the state tournament begins at 9 p.m. Friday evening when top-seeded Vail takes on No. 4-seed Ft. Collins.

Play concludes Sunday morning with the consolation and championship games.

The Chix entered last year's tournament as the No. 6 seed and emerged the fourth best team. The Denver Bandits won last year's tournament. This year, the team is the No. 5 seed.

"I've noticed since I've been playing the caliber of players and teams coming in now are getting younger," Chix member Kit Rice said. "The level of play keeps getting better. It's such a fast game. It's not a checking league, but there is still physical contact. It's more a position and finesse game."

While there is some turnover with the Front Range teams and some of the other mountain town teams, four members of the original Chix with Stix team still play. The newer members have joined with varied hockey backgrounds.

The Chix field a roster of nearly 20 players and have had little trouble generating support from the community. Hockey, in general, is popular in Steamboat, but businesses as far away as Denver have helped contribute to this year's state tournament.

Admission is free for the entire three-day event, and prizes including a Colorado Avalanche jersey will be raffled off.

Basket packages for everyone from spa enthusiasts to skiing fans have also been put together to raffle off at the state tournament.

"It takes a lot to put this tournament on," Wiedemer said. "It's a cooperative effort."

Anyone interested in volunteering for duties including scorekeeping, running the clock, and working the penalty box can Rice at 871-1152.

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