Storm falls to Gunnison in finals
Last weekend, the hockey season unofficially came to a close with the Southwest Cup hockey tournament in Gunnison bringing in three teams in both the men’s and women’s competitive divisions.
The Red Ladies battled back from elimination to take the 2009 Southwest Cup title for the women while the Crested Butte men’s team, the Crested Butte Storm, fell in the finals to Gunnison squad B&B Printing.
After losing the opening game to arch rival the Box Canyon Beavers on Friday, March 27, the Red Ladies battled back with a tie and a win over the Durango Betties on Saturday, March 28 to reach the finals.
Anchored by outstanding goaltending from Sandy Robinson and stout defense from Rose Meyer, Jess Eaton, Molly Frame and Angie Booth, the Red Ladies battled the Betties to a 1-1 tie in their first meeting.
With the chance at a rematch with the Beavers in the finals, the Ladies were determined to push past the Betties in the semifinal game.
The two teams battled again to a tie game at the end of regulation and overtime, forcing a shootout to determine who would advance.
The Ladies triumphed in the shootout and the gutsy win sent the Ladies to the finals on Sunday, March 29 against the Box Canyon Beavers.
The Ladies carried the pace and intensity from their showdowns with Durango into the championship game against the Beavers.
The Beavers held the puck in the Ladies’ zone the final minutes of the first period but the Ladies defense held tough to close the first period notched in a scoreless tie.
It wasn’t until some frantic hustle from Parker in the second period that the Ladies broke open the scoreless tie. A back check from Suzy Parker disrupted a breakout by the Beavers and pushed the puck to Beth Gallagher in the high slot. Gallagher settled the loose puck and fired a wrist shot, slipping it between the pads of the Beavers’ goalie for a 1-0 Ladies lead.
Continued pressure from the Ladies in the Beavers’ zone offered up another goal for the Ladies as fore checking kicked the puck to Parker inside the Beavers’ blue line. Parker sliced through the Beavers’ defense and stuffed the puck past the goalie for a 2-0 Ladies’ lead with five minutes left in the game.
The Ladies defense shut off the Beavers’ hot skaters, leaving them handcuffed on offense. The Beavers pulled their goalie in the final minute to gain an advantage, but the ploy backfired as Hillary Buscovick carried the puck through three Beaver defenders to score an empty-netter and ice the 3-0 win, earning the Red Ladies the 2009 Southwest Cup title.
The Crested Butte Storm showed up to the Southwest Cup tournament flush with talent, a veritable who’s who of hockey skills from the north end of the valley with a couple of Gunnison recruits.
Not to be outdone, the Gunnison squad, B&B Printing, did the same. They started by recruiting Kevin Stanley, goalie for the RMYHL champions the Gunnison Blades, to stand in net. In addition, B&B Printing tapped some young Gunnison talent and, rumor has it, infused the team with a couple out of town hot-shots.
The Storm dropped their opening game to B&B Printing 10-6 but recovered from the opening loss to exact revenge on Telluride in the next two games.
The Storm scored in the opening minute of the first game and then took a 2-0 lead when Willy Miller caught the goalie off his line and shot the puck off his back and into the net.
Telluride opened the second period with a two-on-none rush to cut the Storm lead down to one and threatened to tie the game with a power play to close the second period.
Storm player Mike O’Loughlin had other plans though, as he netted back-to-back short-handed goals to give the Strom a 4-1 lead heading into the third period.
Chris Tanis netted two goals in the third period before Telluride managed to find the back of the net a second time, but the damage was done and the Storm closed with a 6-2 win sending them to the semifinals to face Telluride once again.
It was more of the same for the Storm Sunday morning as they destroyed Telluride 11-4 in the semifinals to set up a rematch with B&B Printing in the finals.
The Storm out skated B&B Printing in the opening minutes of the championship game but B&B Printing made the most of their only two odd-man rushes in the first period to take a 2-0 lead on goals by Norman Goodman and Anthony Lodato.
Despite a roster with an estimated average age around 40, the Storm continued to outpace B&B Printing in the second period. The effort finally paid off three minutes in as Bob Piccaro battled for a loose puck behind the B&B net and pushed it to Paul O’Connor at the top of the face-off circle. O’Connor took one look at the net and blasted the puck top shelf.
The Storm scored their second goal in the final minute of the period on a power play goal by Deuce Wynne and the two teams entered the third period of the championship game deadlocked in a 2-2 tie.
Both Storm goalie Mike Potts and B&B netminder Stanley came up with big saves in the third period, but B&B Printing continued to find open players on the weak side, resulting in goals from Goodman and Lodato.
The Storm pulled their goalie with just under two minutes left and scored when Joe Erickson spun on a loose puck and fired a no-look shot to pull the Storm back to within one.
But B&B Printing held off the last Storm rush and scored an empty net goal from behind mid-ice for the 5-3 win—denying the Storm the coveted Southwest Cup chalice.