“The girls definitely wanted it and they definitely earned it”
by Than Acuff
It took a while to shake off their road legs, but once they did, the West Elk Wolverines u19 girls hockey team won two more league games, taking down Steamboat Springs last weekend.
The Wolverines spent a good portion of the day on Saturday, February 3 in their cars traveling to Steamboat and it showed, as the Wolverines fell behind 1-0 in the first period and didn’t tie it up until the final minute of the second period, finishing the two periods outshot by Steamboat 16-7.
“Travel is always such a big factor in the first game,” says coach Jena D’Aquila. “Steamboat was doing a really good job moving the puck and we were having a tough time breaking the puck out.”
The tying goal woke up the Wolverines enough for them to pull their game together in the third and final period as they matched Steamboat in shots and Samantha Cassel scored with just over two minutes left in regulation, to eventually win the game 2-1.
“It was awesome—we were going crazy,” says D’Aquila. “I just told the girls, you have to want it more than them. Thankfully, we were really strong defensively and with Anika [Anderson] between the posts, we have a little less to worry about because she’s so solid in net.”
Between games, the Wolverines coaches spoke with their team, looking to find a way to crack open Steamboat’s game.
“We told the girls that the biggest thing was that their defense was pitching in and doing a really good job of holding the blue line,” explains D’Aquila. “So we just had to focus on doing anything to get the puck out of our zone.”
The coaches also added a little more to the game plan for the second meeting with Steamboat on Sunday, February 4.
“Four of our players are double-rostered and this was going to be their fourth game,” says D’Aquila. “We told them, let’s come out strong, come out scoring, take the lead right off the bat and hold on to it, which we usually don’t do, and they did just that.”
Kaylee Kaminsky scored in the first minute of the game off an assist from Sophie Hall. Three minutes later, Jansen Lucas scored and then Elizabeth Shaw found the back of the net in the eighth minute for a 3-0 Wolverines lead.
Steamboat climbed back in the game as they netted a goal in the first period and then scored in the opening minutes of the third to pull within one, threatening to pull off a three-goal comeback. Fortunately, not more than 10 seconds later, Shaw struck again to put the Wolverines up 4-2 and their defense and goalie did the rest as they held on for the 4-2 win.
“The girls definitely wanted it and they definitely earned it,” says D’Aquila.
That makes four wins in a row for the Wolverines—five of the last six, with the only odd-game-out ending in a tie.
“I think once you get on a little winning streak, you know what it takes to win,” says D’Aquila.
The Wolverines host Vail this weekend with the game on Saturday, February 10 in Gunnison at 8 p.m. and then their game on Sunday in Crested Butte at noon.
“We know we’ve got some tough competition ahead of us,” says D’Aquila. “Hopefully with this winning mindset, the girls will come out wanting it.”