Steamboat Springs The girls hockey season in Steamboat Springs is winding down but not before five local players have the opportunity to step onto the national stage in Dallas at the end of the month.
The players include Becky Brown and Teagann Yeager, who are members of the Mountain States Girls Hockey League U14 team; Sara Stout and Marley Loomis, who are members of the Mountain States Girls Hockey League U16 team; and Monica Patten, who plays for the Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey U19 Colorado Tigers Prep Elite team.
All five Steamboat players also play on Steamboat teams but are part of larger regional all-star teams that include players from Summit County, Durango, Vail and the Front Range.
The regional teams play games throughout the winter and advanced through state and regional tournaments to earn the opportunity to play for national recognition at a the USA Hockey Association’s National Tournament from March 28 to April 1 in the Dallas area.
The U14 team, the Rock Stars, won a best-of-three series with the Colorado Select in the regional tournament.
The Rock Stars won the first two games, 8-1 and 4-0, to punch their ticket to the nationals.
The U16 team beat Colorado Select in the state tournament Feb. 18 and 19 and then topped the Arizona Coyotes, Highland Hills Lynx and Colorado Select team in the regional tournament March 3 and 4.
“Last year, we lost at the (regional) tournament,” local player Monica Patten said. “Our goal this whole year has been to get to nationals.”
The national tournament will feature the top girls hockey teams in the U12, U14, U16 and U19 divisions from across the country. The teams will open the tournament playing in pool play with the winners advancing to an elimination bracket.
“I really want to win,” Stout said. Stout played in last year’s tournament with the U16 team and finished third. “Last year, we went to the tournament thinking that we couldn’t compete, but after winning the first game, 11-0, we knew that we could play at that level.”
Stout said this year that she would enter the tournament with a higher level of confidence and that thinks that her teammates will be looking to win.
But win or lose, this tournament offers the young Steamboat players a chance to gain experience and an opportunity to step up to the next level.
“I’m hoping this tournament will open up more opportunities to play at a higher level,” Yeager said. “I’m not nervous, but I would say I’m anxious for the chance to play.”
Her teammate Brown also is excited about the opportunity to play for a national title and is ready to get on the ice.
“I think it’s great to just play at this level,” Brown said. “I’m not sure what to expect, but it should be fun.”
Loomis said that all the Steamboat players share a passion for the game, and win or lose, they are just happy to take their game to the next level.
“There’s a reason we all want to be there,” Loomis said. “We love to play the game and are excited about the opportunity to be exposed to hockey at that level.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@steamboatToday.com