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Lady Avs hope to be the best in the West

Tim Mutrie

Some of the top young women hockey players in Aspen – and the western United States, for that matter – will face off at home against another all-star team from Minnesota in a four-game series this weekend.

The Aspen Avalanche Tier-1 Under-19 girls hockey team hosts Shattuck-Saint Mary’s of Faribault, Minn., at 10:15 p.m. tonight, 6:45 p.m. Saturday, and 8:45 a.m. Sunday. The first game was played Thursday night. All games will be at the Aspen Ice Garden, and admission is free.

The Aspen Avalanche, affectionately known as the “Lady Avs,” have been a force to contend with at the under-19 women’s national tournament all three years of the club’s existence. The team features several players with promising college careers.

The Lady Avs feature just six players from Colorado, including five players from Aspen – Ali Crum, Elizabeth Severy, Sascha Anastas, Heidi Hauenstein and Ellen Falender. The rest come from other towns across the country.

“The girls we have grew up playing boys hockey,” said Doug Coombe, who coaches the team with Peter Whitmore. “But they want to play high-level girls hockey, for a chance at a college scholarship. We have a lot of good athletes on this team. They play a lot of different sports and they’re very well-rounded.”

Two Lady Avs hail from Utah and three come from Wisconsin, while others call Idaho, Michigan, and Texas home. Most of the players practice with teams near their homes, then travel with the Lady Avs for games.

To date this season, the Lady Avs are 7-4-1 overall and 2-2 against teams that advanced to the national tournament last year.

“They’re all skating somewhere and it all comes together well,” Coombe said. “They get along really well and Pete and I couldn’t be happier. We only practice twice a year, literally.”

“But they play well as a team,” he added. “We don’t really have a start, but we have a lot of good players – four or five national caliber players,” including Crum and Severy.

In a tournament in November, the Lady Avs lost to Shattuck-Saint Mary’s 5-1, Coombe said.

“But we’ve improved since then,” Coombe said. “It should be very competitive this weekend.”


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