“We can do this”
The West Elk (Crested Butte) U14 Panthers took to the ice again in another pre-season tournament held in Gunnison this past weekend. The Panthers’ first game was against down valley rival Gunnison Blades. Kendl Santelli scored top corner after a nifty pass out by Panther goalie Monika Olesen to beat Blade goalie Maddie Smith at 5:18 in the first period. Panther center Hailey Pike then found Kaitlyn Seifert who ripped a wrist shot in to make it 2-0.The Panthers applied a heavy fore check disrupting the Blades and Pike picked up a rebound to make it 3-zip. The girls defense combos of Maddie Lambert/Ryan Carroll and Miki Olesen/Bradley Santelli then took control of any Gunnison rush and Olesen stopped all 20 shots to record the shut out.
Colorado Select U12 AAA was up next for the Panthers. Select had just come off a heartbreaking overtime loss in Minneapolis the week before in a tournament. Select came out flying and had the Panther squad on their heels and down 2-0 going into the third. Ali McGuire skated through the Select defense scoring in the five hole to pull the Panthers to within one. Seifert then took it coast to coast and buried a wrist shot with 38 seconds left to send the tilt into overtime. In OT, McGuire ripped a bomb from the high slot and Seifert banged the rebound in to ice a thrilling come-from-behind Panther victory.
Sunday’s first game was a re-match vs. Select. The Panthers again found themselves down 2-0 going into the third period after some sloppy play. The pesky Panthers woke up and battled back. Izzie Dethloff and Lindsay Johnson went to work on the fore check and Johnson was rewarded with the goal after ripping a wrist shot from 20 feet out. The fast-skating McGuire then tied the game up sending the contest into OT once again. However this time Select captain Ava Reynolds beat Olesen with a hard slap shot 3 minutes into OT to secure the Select win.
Game four was another re-match with the Blades. Coach Tim Seifert set the tone for the girls. “If you fore-check and apply pressure you will get turnovers,” he emphasized. But before the game, the Gunnison Tournament Director stated to win the Tournament the Panthers had to win by five goals and record a shut out to out-point Select. The Panthers got a pep talk inside the locker room from CB Storm Deuce’s daughter “girls skate hard.” The Storm had just polished off WSC hockey club 11-4 in the prior game at the Jorgensen Ice Arena. And the Panther girls did skate hard exploding to a 3-0 lead after the first period.
Three more goals in the second made it 6-zip Panthers. So the stage was set going into the third. Coach GJ Santelli told the team, “You need to play the best period of hockey you have ever played and Olesen you can not let one goal in if you want to win the trophy.” Monika Olesen gathered her teammates together and said, “We can do this. “ The Panthers continued with their heavy fore check causing the hard skating Blades to make mistakes. Two more Panther goals and Olesen’s fourth shut out of the season, the Panthers won 8-0.
Goal scorers in the final game were Elizabeth Stepanak (hat trick), Leila Nichols, McGuire and Pike. Olesen finished with a 1.25 gaa. The U14 Panthers win the 2010 Gunnison U14 Drop the Puck Tournament for the second year in a row and the second U14 tournament of the season.
MSGHL league season begins next week December 11-12 for West Elk’s U16 squad in Ft. Collins vs. Northern Colorado. The U14 team will start their season in Gunnison December 18-19 vs. New Mexico and Arvada. Go Panthers!