Steamboat's U14 splits games

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Steamboat goalie Lena Fancher knew what to do if she ever faced a penalty shot, but she never needed to use her knowledge until Saturday.

Santa Fe's Brittany Butts was awarded a penalty shot after Steamboat's Siara Atkinson threw her stick at the puck on a Santa Fe breakaway in the second period of Saturday's game between the two 14-and-younger teams.

Butts took the puck at center ice and skated toward Fancher, but Fancher denied Santa Fe the goal. Unfortunately for Steamboat, a first-period goal Butts scored off an assist from Taylor Gonzales was all the visiting team needed in the 1-0 win.

"That was my first penalty shot ever," Fancher, 14, said. "I knew to stay out of the crease and watch the puck."

Fancher turned away 18 of the 19 shots she faced, while her counterpart, Santa Fe's Ellen Kress, a goalie on loan, turned away all five shots she faced from Steamboat, prompting her temporary teammates to slap her helmet after the shutout win.

"We were worried we'd be in over our heads, but we are happy with the way things are going," Santa Fe coach Eric Church said.

Santa Fe's indoor ice rink is 4 years old, Church said, but the girls' program is in its inaugural season. This was the team's first trip to Steamboat Springs' annual Girls Winter Carnival Hockey Tournament, and its players, who range in age from 7 to 14, are enjoying themselves.

Steamboat has the upper hand in net, Church said. While he is struggling to find anyone that wants to put on the pads, Steamboat has two goalies, Fancher and Elizabeth Stoll, to provide Steamboat's U14 and U19 teams with quality play each game.

Church said Fancher was the best goalie his team has faced. Fancher's ability in net has allowed Stoll to step out of net and into more of an offensive role.

Friday, she scored Steamboat's lone goal in a 1-0 win against Colorado Select's U14 team.

Dave Hartley, Steamboat's U14 coach, said his team is taking this weekend's tournament seriously.

"They are stepping up their play," he said. "We felt fortunate to come up with the win (Friday)."

The sixth annual Girls Winter Carnival Hockey Tournament continues today with the consolation and championship games beginning at 7;15 a.m. at Howelsen Ice Arena.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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