Speed makes the difference
The Crested Butte Red Ladies hockey team is, without question, better than ever—and it showed this past weekend as they defeated the Box Canyon Beavers in two straight games at Big Mine Ice Arena.
The tough workouts demanded by coaches Bob Piccaro and Paul O’Connor are paying off, as the Red Ladies now combine speed, stamina and savvy to attack their opponents.
The other payoff is coming from the Red Ladies’ play in town league. The vast improvements in town league talent can be seen in the play of the Red Ladies, specifically in their speed.
The Red Ladies opened the first game against the Beavers on Saturday, January 26 on fire, scoring in the first minute of the game. The Beaver goalie stopped a shot from Rachael Baskfield-Miller, but Hillary Buscovick followed on the rebound to push the puck through the five-hole.
The Beavers regrouped from the early Red Ladies onslaught midway through the first period to take control of the game and return fire on the Red Ladies net.
Red Ladies goalie Sandy Robinson stopped the first barrage but the Beavers’ pressure eventually paid off tying the game 1-1.
The Red Ladies switched gears for the final six minutes of the period knowing that if they didn’t step it up, the game could get away from them.
The new pace set by the Red Ladies made all the difference as the Beavers were pinned in their zone for most of the remainder of the period scrambling to hold off the Red Ladies offense.
The Red Ladies took the lead back during their renewed vim and vigor as Megan Paden fed the puck to Heidi Sherratt, who beat the Beaver goalie to the low corner, closing the first period with a 2-1 lead.
The Beavers switched to dump-and-chase hockey to keep the Red Ladies’ speed in the neutral zone at bay. The new ploy resulted in a flurry of shots on the Red Ladies net but Robinson held tight to deny the Beavers the back of the net.
Consecutive penalties committed by the Red Ladies left them two players down for nearly two minutes in the second period, but they held the Beavers scoreless. Once back to even numbers, the Red Ladies erupted for two more goals in the final four minutes of the second period.
Buscovick stepped on to the ice and carried the puck past two Beaver defenders to score; Brigid Piccaro followed on a shot by Jess Eaton to give the Red Ladies a 4-1 lead heading into the third period.
The Red Ladies dominated the ice the majority of the third period and held the Beavers scoreless for the 4-1 win.
In their second game on Sunday, January 27 the Red Ladies jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Gesa Michel and Buscovick in the first period, but the Beavers closed the opening period strong, threatening to mount a comeback.
Between periods coach O’Connor barked at the Red Ladies to keep their feet moving on the ice while coach Piccaro demanded that his players clear the front of their net of any Beaver player by any means possible.
Lisa Lynch gave the Red Ladies a 3-0 lead in second minute of the second period, scoring on an assist from Piccaro, but the Beavers remained undaunted by the three-goal deficit.
Battling hard for loose pucks and skating strong through the neutral zone, the Beavers climbed back into the game scoring in the second and third periods to cut the Red Ladies lead to one.
But thanks to the work of Robinson, the Red Ladies held on as she came up with several big saves in the waning moments of the game to ice the win and complete the sweep of those pesky Beavers.
The Red Ladies head to a tournament in Craig Friday through Sunday, February 8-10, to defend their tournament title from last year.