Steamboat Springs This weekend's Adele Dombrowski Girls Hockey Tournament will be an affirmation of the growth of girls youth hockey in the Yampa Valley and a celebration of one of its local pioneers.
Tournament director Katherine Hartley remembers years ago when all local girls - from ages six to 18 - competed on one team, the Ice Devils.
"Now we have three solid youth teams with 15 to 20 kids," Hartley said. "It's exciting. We'll probably have enough for a fourth (U-10) team next year."
Adele Dombrowski, who Hartley called one of the "founding skaters" of the budding program, joined the original Ice Devils team in 1998 at age 10 and played through to the U-19 level before her death in September 2005.
Dombrowski's mother, Kris Stouffer, wrote in the tournament program that "it was Adele's ability to be the quiet leader that gently nudged the team into excellence and helped grow the girls program."
The tournament also has grown - from about 60 players to nearly 240. This year's event features 55 local skaters competing in three age divisions for Steamboat (U-12, U-14, U-19).
"It's not just another hockey tournament; this one's about more because of the fact it's named for someone they knew and someone who loved hockey," Hartley said.
Coaches from Steamboat's three teams will each award one player from their team with a special Adele Award to honor Dombrowski's memory. The awards ceremony is at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Howelsen Ice Arena. The award, an acronym for attitude, determination, effort, laughter and enthusiasm, was created last year to celebrate the players who best display those attributes, Hartley said.
The tournament itself brings 10 teams from across the state and as far as Arizona for three days of competitive hockey.
Play begins at noon today at Howelsen Ice Arena and continues through most of the day Saturday. The tournament concludes with championship games Sunday. The U-12 championship match is at 10:30 a.m., the U-14 game is at noon, and the U-19 game is at 1:30 p.m.
A silent auction to benefit the girls youth hockey programs will start tonight and run through 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Hartley said Steamboat's three adult women's hockey teams, the Chix with Stix, Steamboat Storm and Steamboat Edge, donated gift baskets to add to a nice collection of items.
For a full schedule of games, visit www.steamboatyouthhockey.com.