Panthers take state title
The Crested Butte Panthers U14 girls’ hockey team entered the state playoffs in Colorado Springs Friday to Sunday, March 13-15, as the fourth seed, and when all was said and done, brought home the state title.
Crested Butte opened the double-elimination tournament on Friday the 13th against Steamboat Springs. The Panthers, led by captain Marissa Lambert, came to Honnen Arena against the number one seed Steamboat Springs to show they meant business.
After their first goal, Steamboat was shut down the rest of the game. Jessie D’Aquila showed them a sweet goal, and did a shimmy to show we were present. Mallory Mikeska put one in and so did Ali McGuire. The team, Abby Whiting, Mckenzie Montagna, Kaitlyn Seifert, Mallory Mikeska, Marissa Lambert, Madison Lambert, Bradley Santelli, Morgan Osterling, Hailey Pike, Elsa Watkins, Jessie D’Aquila, Anika Kooiman, Ali Sunter, Ali McGuire, Cassiday Dodds, and Monika Olesen, the Gregarious Goalie, showed up and demanded respect.
With a very clean agenda, the girls defended their name and cleaned up 3-1 against Steamboat forcing them to battle their way back to first. Just to note, Steamboat had not lost a game for two years until the Panthers played them Friday the 13th.
The next morning at the World Arena, Crested Butte played the ever-famous “Colorado Select” with their “chosen players,” only to beat them 4-1. Abby Whiting scored a hat trick and Marissa Lambert added the fourth goal just to seal the deal.
Select was surprised at 8 a.m. and ended up in the penalty box quite a bit trying to prove their worthiness! The rest of the day, the Panthers rested and played, knowing they were either first- or second-place winners for the last game Sunday at 6 a.m.
After a quick pajama warm-up against the fashionable blue and white warm-up team, Crested Butte wanted it all. Jessie D’Aquila took off on a break-away and slipped it nicely in the net. As usual, she did her “shoulder shimmy” and woke them up.
Abby Whiting wanted to make sure they were watching and scored on them again. Select made things interesting and scored on the Panthers to make it 2-1.
Ali McGuire scored on a great break away as she smoothly roofed it after faking out the goalie and the puck went right in. The last goal came from a combination by Kaitlyn and Hailey, and Marissa added one more to push it over the edge with four minutes left in the game.
Coaches GJ Santelli, Tim Seifert and Tony Lambert were very pleased with the unbelievable sportsmanlike conduct of the entire Panther team. Each contributed quick-thinking, supportive passing and excellent fast-paced skills to achieve all three wins.
The entire Panther organization thanks everyone in this town who supported them and the Youth Hockey League this year and every year to make this success happen, and to bring a banner back home to our favorite place—Crested Butte. If only there was a place to hang that banner. A special thanks to Jake and Lauren at Parks and Rec, along with a deep thanks to all of the moms and dads of the Panther family who sacrifice late, cold practice nights and long drives to achieve what we knew we had in us.