Rattle off two more league wins
by Than Acuff
The West Elk U19 Blades girls hockey team continues to roll through the opening games of league play, notching two more wins this past weekend over Colorado Select by a combined score of 15-5.
The Blades opened the two-game home series in Gunnison Saturday evening with a 7-2 win. After a scoreless opening seven minutes, the Blades took advantage of a power play when Sierra D’Aquila scored to take a 1-0 lead. Two minutes later Alexis Duke scored off an assist from Maddie Lambert and Hailey Shrieves closed out the first period scoring in the final minute for a 3-0 Blades lead heading into the second period.
The Blades used another power play to add to their lead when Kendl Santelli scored off an assist from Lambert on a power play in the fifth minute of the second. D’Aquila netted her second goal of the game 10 minutes into the second period before Colorado Select finally got on the scoreboard in the final two minutes, but the Blades were sitting on a comfortable 5-1 lead at the start of the third period.
Then things continued to get a little ugly as tempers flared between the two teams. Colorado Select scored their second goal of the game 25 seconds into the third period but the game was well in control for the Blades. Lambert scored midway through the third period and Ryan Carroll capped the heated win with three minutes left in the game, scoring off an assist from Santelli to finish off Colorado Select 7-2.
“It was definitely physical, very rough,” says coach Tony Lambert. “It was the game you don’t want to play but you need to play. The girls were getting frustrated and mad and got caught up in it and we had to reel them in.”
The fireworks from their first meeting seemed to flare out as the two teams took to the ice on Sunday. While the Blades came out skating hard and setting a furious pace in the opening three minutes, Colorado Select relied on their tough defensive play and stellar work of their net minder to hold off the initial attack. In addition, Lambert and the coaching staff moved some players to new positions and it took a while for them to get comfortable with their new roles.
Colorado Select had the opening say in the second meeting when a sloppy breakout by the Blades backfired. After killing off a penalty, the Blades tried to take the puck straight up the ice only to get stripped in front of their net and Colorado Select capitalized to take a 1-0 lead.
The Blades responded five minutes later when Lambert skated in off the blue line on a power play and sliced through the Colorado Select zone to finish with a backhand, leaving the teams tied 1-1 heading into the second period.
“I was happy with the first period, I felt we could have used a few more shots,” says Lambert.
The Blades picked up the play in the second period to take control of the game but Colorado Select managed to deny the Blades the back of the net until the 11th minute. With the Blades set up in the offensive zone, Bradley Santelli fired a shot from the blue line that deflected off a stick. The Colorado Select goalie made the initial save but D’Aquila followed on the play to score the rebound for a 2-1 Blades lead. A minute later Santelli took a pass from Alexis Duke and skated onto goal, slipping her shot inside the far post to build a two-goal lead.
The Blades killed off a penalty to close the second period and built off that momentum to erupt in the third period for five goals. Carroll opened the attack in the opening minute of the third period, taking the puck up the boards and straight to net to score for a 4-1 lead. Colorado Select responded a minute later to keep the Blades within striking distance, but the Blades put the game away for good, netting three goals in three minutes, taking advantage of a 5v3 situation.
“I called the timeout to emphasize a few things,” says Lambert. “I told them to control the puck, set up in the zone and make great passes and they did.”
D’Aquila scored by tipping a shot by Haley Shrieves from the point. Lambert added a sixth goal when her pass to the slot careened off a Colorado Select player and into their net and Izzie Dethloff capped the three-goal barrage, taking a pass from Bryar Robbins and floating a high shot just under the crossbar. Colorado Select managed to score once more but Dethloff added her second goal of the game, scoring in the final two minutes to finish off the 8-3 Blades win.
“For the most part, they played the game a lot smarter and didn’t get dragged into anything,” says Lambert. “I think the weekend was a big learning curve, for sure. [Colorado Select is] definitely the most physical team in the league and we got exposed to some things that we will focus on.”
The Blades take a break from games for the holidays before they face the Summit u19 team twice on Sunday, January 3.
“I expect a battle with Summit,” says Lambert. “It’ll just keep getting harder now.”