“We have a lot more than we showed”
by Than Acuff
The opening games of any season are always a mix of nerves, anticipation and baptism by fire as players learn to adjust to game speed and learn how their teammates react in game situations.
Such was the case this weekend as the West Elk Wolverines u19 girls hockey team opened their season at home against Colorado Select and came away with two ties.
“We were pretty evenly matched teams,” says head coach Jena D’Aquila.
D’Aquila admits there may have been a small case of over-confidence heading into the weekend as Colorado Select had lost all six of its games thus far. But, the Wolverines had yet to play a single game so D’Aquila knew it would be an interesting first game for sure. Adding to the mix of uncertainty, the Wolverines would play without goalie Anika Anderson, who led the league in save percentage last season.
Colorado Select took a 1-0 lead in the first period of the game on Saturday, December 16 but the Wolverines woke up in the second period to score two goals in the first two minutes of the period, with Jansen Lucas scoring off an assist from Sierra D’Aquila and Jaden Cavarra scoring off an assist from Bryar Robbins.
But Colorado Select tied the game up in the 10th minute of the second period and the teams headed into the third period notched in a 2-2 tie.
The Wolverines broke the tie five minutes in as Sierra scored but Colorado Select responded in the 10th minute and the two teams were left with the bitter taste of a 3-3 tie.
“As far as it being our first game, I thought it went fairly well,” says Jena. “More than anything, we just wanted our girls to play their hardest. I think at the end of the second period and the beginning of the third we didn’t push as hard as we could have to seal the win.”
The two teams met again on Sunday, December 17 and finished with another 3-3 tie. The Wolverines took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Lucas, but Colorado Select tied it up.
Sierra put the Wolverines back on top in the second period but Colorado Select responded again to send the teams into the third period tied up 2-2 once again.
Cavarra scored her second goal in as many games in the opening minute of the third period and the Wolverines pressed looking to finish off Colorado Select. A penalty in the eighth minute had the Wolverines down a player but they pressed hard and continued to dictate play.
Rylie Robbins was in net for Anderson and played well all weekend, including a couple of big saves during the penalty kill to hold the lead but Colorado Select took advantage of a rush up ice late in the game to tie it up 3-3 with just under two minutes to go.
The Wolverines were on offense a majority of the final minutes of play but couldn’t find a seam past the Colorado Select net minder, leaving the teams to finish in another 3-3 tie.
“I felt like we outplayed Colorado Select but their goalie was really strong,” says Jena. “We definitely have a very strong breakout and, overall, I thought we were very aggressive. We have a lot more than we showed.”
The girls will have their Alumni game on Wednesday, December 27 and then return to league play in the New Year.