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Mother Puckers’ bid for state title denied by Vail

Vail is a four-letter word.

An understrength Aspen Mother Puckers team fought valiantly but came up short against archrival Vail in the Colorado women’s hockey state championship game in Steamboat Springs on Sunday.

The Women’s Association of Colorado Hockey or WACH’s “A” Division features the premier teams in the state. The season came down to a round-robin tournament last week in Steamboat.

Aspen opened against Breckenridge on Friday night, but lost 3-1 in a hotly contested game. Aspen’s only goal came on Calista Herndon’s slap shot from the point, assisted by Beth “Madpup” McNichol. Breck’s net-minder J. Headley, thought by many to be the premier goalie in the league, turned away 24 Pucker shots.

Aspen came back hard the next morning against Steamboat Springs’ Chix with Stix. The Puckers swamped the Chix with 36 shots, and earned a 6-0 victory with linemates Susie Theriot and Tina Schairer each scoring a hat trick. Pucker goaltender Margo Cuttitta notched the shutout.

That victory qualified the Puckers for the semifinal round against the top-seeded Denver Bandits on Saturday night.

Injury, pregnancy (they are the Mother Puckers after all), and the pro tennis circuit reduced Aspen to just two lines for the weekend, and that proved to be a factor the rest of the tournament as the Puckers faced teams with three full lines.

Saturday night’s game against the Bandits reflected this problem. Aspen jumped to an early 3-0 lead in the first period on goals by Rachel Dayton, Herndon and Monda Birkholz, but the Bandits chipped away at the lead. The Puckers needed additional goals from Dayton, Theriot, and rookie Zoe Stern to finally cement a 6-5 win to advance to the final against Vail.

Aspen dominated the first period of the state championship, running up an early two-goal lead on scores by McNichol and Schairer. Momentum shifted in the second period as a visibly tired Aspen team tried to hang on. The Puckers were unable to keep pace in their fourth game in 36 hours, and fell behind 6-2 by the middle of the third period.

Schairer, a former standout for the Providence Lady Friars, bagged her third goal, and McNichol hit one pipe and missed another by a whisker, but Mother Puckers went down by a score of 6-3.

Coaches Tom Sjogren and Adam Fortier were visibly proud of their ladies’ efforts. They remarked on the strong defensive play of blue-liners Shelley Supplee, Courtney Clark, and Sierra Jacober.

The weekend was also saddened by the announcement of wily veterans Cathy Crum and Monda Birkholz that they would be retiring after this tournament.

But the Mother Puckers Too, the brash, up-start “B” Division team of the powerful Mother Pucker organization, will play their state championship in Steamboat Springs in two weeks.

– from the Mother Puckers


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