Breakaways return Stella Cup to Vail
BRECKENRIDGE — So what’s more impressive — winning the Stella Cup or the fact that the Vail Breakaways were able to stuff 14 hockey players and a dog into Susanne Johnson’s Suburban to get to Breckenridge’s Stephen C. West Ice Arena in the first place?
“It was a tight squeeze,” Breakaways veteran Jen Babcock said. “We love each other so much, we don’t mind sitting so close to each other and the dog.”
Close off the ice generally equals close on the ice, which helps you win a title. The Vail Breakaways women’s hockey team won the Women’s Association of Colorado Hockey A-2 title, better known as the Stella Cup, on Sunday. It’s the Breakaways second crown in three years and ninth in the storied history of the team.
After defeating the Denver Bandits, 5-2, for the coveted cup, the ladies drank everything from milk to slightly stronger beverages from Stella at Garfinkel’s to celebrate.
(If you’re wondering why it’s the Stella Cup, it’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” thing — Stanley and Stella.)
The Breakaways finished third during the regular season and started pool play with a 3-2 loss to the Bandits on Saturday morning, but they bounced back by dumping the Breckenridge Blizzard, 4-1, on two from Terry Stimac and one each from Babcock and Ada Borg.
Vail clinched a rematch with the Bandits by edging the Northern Colorado Comets, 3-2. Pilar Clark, Karrisa Keltner and Patricia Kamp lit the lamp in that one.
Balanced scoring was indicative of the team effort all weekend. Keltner, normally a left wing, is just one story in all this. She found a new home on the blueline as the Breakaways pursued Stella.
“We had some injuries and some absences, and I put her at defense,” Breakaways coach Alice Plain said. “As long as I’m coach she’s playing defense now. She’s so athletic and knows the game so well. She made things happen.”
Solving Denver Bandits goalie Kandice Torno was the key in the title game for Vail. The Breakaways put 95 shots on her — 50 in the championship game alone — in two tilts during the weekend.
Kamp ended up with the hat trick, and the Breakaways were celebrating a team win.
“The camaraderie of this particular team, everyone is close and good friends,” Plain said. “We certainly all feel blessed to have a group of women like the Breakaways to spend weekends with and enjoy all the things involved with being a team.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.