Secure third seed at state hockey tournament
by Than Acuff
The first game of any road trip is always tough for the West Elk Wolverines u19 girls team. Add in a little dose of overconfidence and that can spell their demise, as it did on Sunday, February 18 when the Wolverines dropped the first of two games against Summit 1-0.
“It was a bit of a struggle,” says coach Jena D’Aquila. “We never play well the first game of a road trip and this weekend was a prime example. I think we also kind of underestimated our opponent.”
After a scoreless first period, Summit scored in the second period and managed to hold on to their slim lead through the third period to notch the win.
“I don’t think the ladies were mentally prepared,” says D’Aquila. “It was not our best game of the season. We passed when we should have shot and shot when we should have passed.”
In addition to losing the game, the Wolverines dropped a spot in the overall standings and were looking at the fourth-seed spot for the post-season. Fortunately, they had a chance to remedy the situation as they took to the ice later that day for a rematch with Summit.
“After the first game we just told the ladies that we wanted to see more from them,” says D’Aquila. “We were frustrated and the ladies were really frustrated after the first game.”
A lunch break, some time to rejuvenate, and the pangs of a poor effort on the ice gave the girls just what they needed to avenge the loss as they faced Summit in the second game.
The Wolverines came out skating hard and fast and lit the lamp of the Summit goal two minutes into the game as Bryar Robbins scored off an assist from Jaden Cavarra.
Summit was in no mood to roll over though and they responded, scoring in the ninth minute of the first to tie the game 1-1.
The Wolverines then went to town, scoring the next three goals. Elizabeth Shaw put the Wolverines back on top scoring in the 14th minute of the second period. Sophie Hall scored on a powerplay two minutes into the third period and Kaylee Kaminsky tacked on another goal three minutes later for a 4-1 Wolverines advantage.
Summit scored on a powerplay in the 13th minute but that was all they could muster as the Wolverines closed out the 4-2 win.
“The ladies came out in that second game a completely different team,” says D’Aquila. “It was awesome and a good confidence booster.”
The win moved the Wolverines back up into third place in league standings as they head to Denver this weekend for the state tournament. D’Aquila knows they have the talent to return to the championship game but it really depends on what’s between their ears as they head into the post-season.
“The only thing that has held this team back is the mental game,” says D’Aquila. “If they go in mentally prepared and confident, we can at least make it to that final game.”