U-19 girls take second at Sportsmanship
There have been times when the Vail Sportsmanship Hockey Tournament has not lived up to its name.
That was definitely not the case in Sunday’s U-19 girls championship game, in which Aspen beat Vail, 3-0.
After the game, Aspen cheered Vail when the Mountaineers received their second-place awards. Vail cheered Aspen when the Skiers collected their awards. Each Aspen player went down the Vail line, shaking each players’ hand and then received high-fives from the Summit team, who were all sitting along the boards.
And, then, both teams left the ice through a tunnel of cheering Summit players.
You do not see this every day in youth sports. So, Sunday’s postgame pleasantries were a nice ending to a good weekend of hockey.
“It’s great to see the girls are out here, having fun,” Vail coach Pamela vanReesema said. “They’re learning. There are some bitter rivalries, but there’s still smiling and shaking their hands. That’s positive, and it’s great to see as a coach.”
Another quality on display Sunday was courage. Vail goalie Kris Caples entered this weekend’s tournament with a bad back and it was apparent that her condition was worsening as the weekend progressed.
Against Aspen, she went down on the ice hard twice and it looked like she couldn’t continue, but she bravely soldiered on and finished the game.
“Kris played unbelievably for us today,” vanReesema said. “She’s played great all weekend long. I think she was down to her last straw. We weren’t helping her out. The puck was in our end probably 75 percent of the time and she was battling out there for us.”
Caples stopped 24 of 27 Aspen shots.
It was all Aspen in the finale. As vanReesema aptly put it, the Mountaineers “definitely played like it was their fifth game of the weekend.”
Aspen scored once in each period. Victoria Work scored in the first. It was Maddy D’Amato in the second and Dylan Braun in the third.
The U-19’s advanced to the finals with a 2-1 win over Summit Sunday morning. Vail got two, quick goals from Keegan Garnsey in the opening minutes of the first period. Summit’s Jackie Koetteritz halved that lead in the second, but Vail held on to win behind a stout defensive effort.
“We played awesome this morning,” vanReesema said. “I was really happy with the way they played. I think they were a little ticked off from the night before (after losing to Aspen). They wanted some revenge and they came out hard.”
Vail finished the tournament 3-2. While the Mountaineers would have liked to have kept the title at home, there’s plenty of hockey ahead in the season.
“We’ve improved a lot since day one, which is only what a coach could hope for – to see improvement,” vanReesema said. “These were great games just to see where we need some work, where we need to go from here. It’s my first year with these girls. I’m still learning where they’re at. But, I’m happy with the performance this weekend.”
Bantam A’s tie Springs Black
Who says Midnight Madness is just for basketball?
The Vail Bantam A’s and Colorado Springs Black went back and forth until the midnight hour Saturday night and skated to an exciting 2-2 tie.
Vail, outmanned nearly two-to-one, tied the game at one with 1:41 left in the second period on the first of two from Casey Kleisinger. The assist went to Niklas Porter.
Vail took a surprising 2-1 lead against favored Colorado Springs when Blake Armstrong fed Kleisinger with 5:42 left in the game. The Tigers evened the game on a Grant Schauer goal minutes later.
Though Vail did not advance to the finals, the Bantams had a very good weekend with a 2-1-1 mark. Also, congratulations go out to the Bantam A’s for winning the Sportsmanship Trophy for accumulating the fewest penalty minutes of any Bantam team at the tournament.
Squirt B’s bow to Pueblo
The Vail Squirt B’s gave eventual champion Pueblo everything it could handle Saturday night in a 2-0 loss.
Vail trailed Pueblo just 1-0, until the visitors scored with only 23 seconds left in the game. The Squirt B’s finished the tournament 1-3.
The first round of the Sportsmanship Tournament yielded the following champions: Aspen (U-19 girls), Colorado Springs Gold (Bantam A’s) and Pueblo (Squirt B’s). … Sportsmanship winners were Summit (U-19 girls), Vail (Bantam A’s) and the Denver Country Club (Squirt B’s). … Props to Jade Kersey, executive director of the Vail Junior Hockey Association, tournament director Beth Chow and the countless crew of volunteers, who helped this weekend go off smoothly. You have about 96 hours to sleep before the Midget AA’s and A’s start up Friday.
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at email@example.com.