Breakaways lose Stella in shootout
Those roses should have been for the Vail Breakaways.
Those roses and the Stella Cup were just waiting there for the Breakaways.
Vail came within 22 seconds of collecting those roses and Stella.
Instead, the Breakaways’ Alice Plain, Jen Babcock and Julie Alt ended up graciously handing the roses and Stella to CU.
The Buffs’ Stefanie Metcalf scored 22 ticks left in regulation to tie it at two and then she beat Breakaways goalie Pat Lammer in the shootout, sending Stella and the state championship to Boulder for the first time.
Tied 2-2 after regulation and a five-minute, sudden-death overtime, Vail and CU went to a shootout. Due to a quirky tournament rule, it was a one-person shootout, instead of the usual five. Metcalf beat Lammer on her right ride. Vail sent Pamela VanReesma to center ice, but Buffs goalie Mallory Most blocked the shot, abruptly ending Vail’s chances of defending the Stella Cup.
“We had them and we let them in in the last 22 seconds and that sunk us,” Vail’s Deb Davis said. “It’s a bummer to lose when it comes down to one player in a shootout in a team sport. You hate to lose it like that. You’d like to get five skaters out there (for the shootout).”
Despite the shootout, it was hugs all around in the in the postgame at Dobson. Vail went 3-1-1, winning its pool, handing archrival, Aspen, a loss in the semifinals and giving CU everything it had.
“I’ve been coaching this team for three years and all three years we’ve been in the championship game,” Breakaways coach Bob Saxer said. “Obviously, we won last year, but this game right here was the best game I’ve ever seen them play. As far as being a team and getting their stuff together, that was key. Everyone was on the same page.”
After two periods, CU led on a Metcalf breakaway goal, despite the fact that the Breakaways were controlling the flow of play. A rare intermission between the second and third periods for the Zamboni seemed to give the Breakaways new life.
“We’re not used to having an ice make in between the second and third (periods),” Vail captain Alice Plain said. “I think it was good for our team. We got to rest a little bit and, yeah, we chatted it up in the locker room and put together some good plans. We changed things up a little bit. We brought Tania (Landauer) up on offense and those guys did really well. Those guys came out strong.”
Yes, they did. Just 29 seconds into the third, Landauer blasted a shot from the blueline and VanReesma was perfectly positioned for the deflection and it was tied at one.
Two minutes later, Vail went up 2-1 on a great shot from Jessica Backhus with the aid of a nice screen from Plain up front.
Vail was cruising toward Stella until the Breakaways took a costly penalty with 1:54 left in regulation. Metcalf capitalized late and the two teams headed toward a scoreless overtime and the fateful shootout.
The Breakaways’ comeback against CU wasn’t the first of the day. In the morning’s semifinal against the Motherpuckers, Vail was in a 2-0 hole with 6:23 left in the second period. Like in the finals, Landauer moved up to offense and Vail was off to the races.
Landauer started the comeback on helpers from Karrisa Keltner and Babcock. In the third period, Landauer tied it on an unassisted goal with 12:34 left. Keltner to Babcock was the game-winner as the Breakaways clinched their season series with their archrivals two games to one.
“That was a surprise,” Plain said. “It’s new era against Aspen because, in the old days, we could never come back once they got us down. We definitely picked it up. We changed the lines around a little bit and moved it around and we were able to some goals.”
Vail finishes the season with a 17-4-4 mark, and with a lot of good memories.
“We had a great season,” Davis said. “We were very cohesive all season. We were all just good friends and we stuck together all season. We had a great season. We battled to the last second. I think we’re all really proud of the way we played these girls.”