Photo by John F. Russell
Steamboat Springs hockey players, from left, Marley Loomis, Megan Stabile, Monica Patten and Hannah Samlowski are coming off of a strong showing at the statewide player development camp held in Denver last weekend. Loomis, Stabile and Patten have been invited to USA Hockey’s District Camp, which will be held the first week of May in Salt Lake City.
Steamboat Springs Three Steamboat Springs hockey players will get the chance to showcase their talents and represent their town in May at the Rocky Mountain District Player Development Camp in Salt Lake City.
“All of our girls did really, really well in the statewide player development camp, and they all really deserve a chance in Salt Lake City,” said coach Alexa Pighini, who coached several of the girls this year on the U-19 girls hockey team that won the state championship.
Seven Steamboat skaters traveled to the statewide player evaluation camp in Denver, with forward Monica Patten, defender Megan Stabile and defender Marley Loomis earning invitations to Salt Lake City for the next level. The Utah camp will host top skaters from a five-state region that includes Colorado, and it is next along the path to the national team.
“It’s going to be just like the state camp. You have to work as hard as you can, and hopefully you will make it to (the next level) nationals,” Patten said. “Making it to nationals is a long shot, but this is our chance to go for it.”
Steamboat player Hannah Samlowski is waiting to find out whether she will get a shot. She was named as an alternate for the Salt Lake City camp and will find out in the next two weeks whether she can go.
“The state camp was a lot of fun,” Samlowski said. “Sure, I want to make it, but it’s not going to be the end of the world if it doesn’t happen.”
The state camp covered four days last week, with players working with college-level coaches on hockey skills and fitness training. The top players were selected to go on to Salt Lake City, and a few from that group will move onto the national team, which trains in June.
Steamboat’s Kate Verploeg, Meghan Lukens and Olivia Gorr also skated at the state camp but did not advance.
Pighini said that the Salt Lake City camp is a terrific opportunity for the young skaters to see what it is going to take to get to the next level and that it will also give those players a chance to showcase their talents in front of college-level coaches.
“I’m excited,” Stabile said. “It was a good camp, and I knew a lot of the girls from last year. It was harder than last year because they didn’t take as many players, and they didn’t take as many defenders as they were supposed to. That made it exciting.”
Pighini said this year’s state camp was much harder because the level of competition in girls hockey continues to rise. This year, organizers limited the camp to AAA-level players and a few recommended AA players, such as those from Steamboat.
Pighini said hockey organizers were cracking down and making getting to the next level more of a challenge — especially for players from remote towns like Steamboat.
“Steamboat Springs is kind of like a bubble,” Pighini said. “These camps are a chance to get outside of that bubble and see what’s out there.”
The four Steamboat girls agreed that it’s nice to play at the development camps and to see where they stand in the state and in the region.
“It was really great,” Patten said. “It’s fun to go play with a ton of really good girls in Denver. Here, girls hockey is so small, and we don’t get to play with a lot of different players, which makes it hard to get better.”
The Denver camp was a chance to find out what the Steamboat players are doing well and where they can improve. Pighini said the Salt Lake City camp would be another chance to learn how to improve.
“This was more than I would ever hope for,” Loomis said. “It was such a high level that I wasn’t expecting anything. It was such a surprise to even keep up with everybody who was there.”