Checkers take home MWHL title |

Checkers take home MWHL title

Special to the Daily The FirstBank Checkers are the champs of the Mountain Women's Hockey League. From the back left are coach Bob Saxer, Molly Love, Mary Pierik, Sharon O'Grady, Jen Waluk, Terry Stimac, Brea Schwartz, Marly Kincel and Mella Wheatley. In the front row, from the left, are Rose Braden, Jan Osteen, April Bingham, Tanya Caruso, Kim Hanson and goalie Trish Ross.

The Mountain Women’s Hockey League (MWHL) provided another weekend of thrills (and spills) as it concluded its third season of league play with its championship tournament, March 18-19. The winners in a marathon battle were the FirstBank Checkers who defeated the Buckhorn Valley Wild, 3- 2, in the second title game of the double-elimination tournament. The Checkers, coached by Bob Saxer, played through the winners bracket to be handed their first defeat in the first championship game. The Wild, coached by Dave Cech, had to overcome an early defeat and play through the losers’ bracket, defeating the Checkers, 4-2, in the initial championship game before falling to the Checkers in the second game. “This was such a close league that any team could have been in the final game,” said Scott Ruff, facility manager for WECMRD, which organized the league activities this season. “In fact, the Checkers finished in third place during league season play, but won the final tournament. We are proud to sponsor the MWHL and help expand the opportunities for women’s hockey in Eagle County.”League play

The Gore Range Brewery Brewsers, coached by Aaron Beckman, demonstrated consistency by winning the MWHL regular season title, winning all but two of their games during the season. The Buckhorn Valley Wild came in second in league play followed by the Checkers, the Sandbar Sports Grill Shooters, coached by Paul Redmond and the Benderly Economic Eagles, coached by Rob Fawcett.An awards party followed the tournament during which league and team awards were give out. Both the Hot Shot (most goals) and Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards were won by Kristina “Gus” Turner; Playmaker award (most assists) was awarded to Suzanne Tarpey; Most Valuable Defense (MVD) went to Mella Wheatley and Most Improved Player (MIP) was Laura Cerney. Four of the five league awards were won by members of the Gore Range Brewery Brewsers.”We worked very hard all season long and the women improved immensely in their skills. I was impressed with their intensity and desire to be the best in each game we played,” said Beckman. Team awardsTeam awards were as follows: Gore Range Brewery Brewsers: MVP – Gus Turner; MVD – BJ Garcia, MIP – Krista Johnson.

FirstBank Checkers: MVP – Terri Stimac, MVD – Mella Wheatley, MIP – Brea Schwartz.Benderly Economic Eagles: MVP – Nicolette Dais; MVD – Melissa Mock; MIP – Michelle Stone;Sandbar Sports Grill Shooters: MVP – Kim Wallach, MVD – Cindy Wetzel, MIP – Jennifer French. Buckhorn Valley Wild: MVP – Bonnie Woods, MVD – Karen DeLorenzo and Ruthie Martin, MIPs Clare McManus and Erin Cada.Third year

The Mountain Women’s Hockey League is a novice and intermediate women’s league that plays at both the Eagle and Vail ice arenas. The season begins with a training camp to learn and/or review basic skating, stick handling and game positioning skills. Coaching and instruction are an important part of the league, and volunteer coaches help to develop skills and team play through practice sessions and games throughout the season. At the conclusion of the training camps, five teams of approximately equal ability were formed that played each other twice during the season. “Coaching is such an important part of this league,” said Ginny Crowley, one of the MWHL organizers. “The coaches are responsible for the amazing growth of the league and the increase in all the players’ skills and enthusiasm for hockey. In addition to team sponsors, the MWHL also receives support from George Shaeffer Construction and Venture Sports.The league’s Web site at has more detailed information. Women interested in joining this league should contact WECMRD at the Eagle Ice Rink at 328-5277 or Crowley at 476-5008 or e-mail Vail, Colorado

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