Vail makes Stella semis
The Vail Breakaways have some strange synergy with Synergy.
The two teams met twice during the regular season and tied.
They met Saturday afternoon at Dobson during pool play of the 2004 Stella Cup Playoffs and, well, they tied, 3-3.
“What is the deal with these guys? This is our third game with them and our third tie with them this season,” Vail’s Julie Alt said. “I mean, what is the deal? I don’t know. They have some voodoo over us or something.”
No matter, Vail is done with Synergy for the year. A 5-4 win over Steamboat and the aforementioned tie gave the Breakaways a 2-0-1 record and the No. 1 spot as the top seed in the Red Pool. The defending Stella Cup champs will face the second seed from the Blue Pool, which is none other than archrival Aspen, at 8 a.m. today.
“We are happy,” Vail captain Alice Plain said. “We’re thrilled to death to win the pool, and we tried to be a bit conservative today just to conserve our energy for (Sunday). But, Synergy’s a tough team. For some reason, it just ends up being a tie. It was tough. But, we’re going to be ready to go into (the semifinals).”
The Breakaways actually locked up their semis berth Saturday morning with a 5-4 thriller over the Steamboat Chix with Sticks. Plain to Becky Maddux and Cindy Reynolds and Alt to Caroline Cox gave Vail a 2-1 lead in the first. But, Vail fell behind, 3-2, in the second before erupting for three goals.
Blueliner Jessica Backhus helped Jen Babcock light the lamp to tie it. Plain ripped the twine to give Vail the lead and Cox provided some much-needed insurance with her second of the game, courtesy of Reynolds and Pamela VanReesma.
“Caroline played awesome,” Plain said. “She had totally her best game ever. She’s really quick. She all of a sudden turns on the jets and got two quick goals.”
In the afternoon, Synergy proved to be as tough as ever. After the visitors took a 1-0 lead in the second, Vail scored twice in 17 seconds. Alt scored the first of two for her on the afternoon on an assist from Karrisa Keltner. Jen Babcock came charging on the ensuing faceoff and found Kristena Wyatt, who made it 2-1.
Vail went up 3-2 when Alt hit paydirt again, thanks to her linemate, Babcock and Keltner.
“We’re clicking,” Alt said. “It’s our third year playing together. We’ve got the line. We have so much fun. I’m the old lady. They’re the youngsters. Usually, it’s Karrisa who scores two goals in a game. It was exciting.”
Synergy tied the game with 4:18 to go, but Vail, though the No.1-spot was in the bag, kept charging. VanReesma had several good shifts which nearly resulted in goals. And then, there was Reynolds who had a breakaway in the final minute.
“Cindy’s snake eyes, man,” Alt said sympathetically. “Thirty-four seconds. She took it down. She moved this way. She moved that way. She moved this way. The goalie was totally committed this way and she came back that way and she had her. She missed by this much. We were all cheering on the bench, ‘Yeah, Cindy,’ and then, ‘Ugh.’ We were destined, I guess.”
The Breakaways spent the rest of the evening running the tournament, no small feat, while scouting the opposition for today’s play.
“We’ve got to run these games,” Alt said. “We’re going to relax and watch the play, figure out strategy and have a few beers.”
It had to be Aspen in the semifinals. Vail and Aspen have combined for 12 of the 21 Stella Cup championships. They’ve met the last two seasons in the Stella Cup. In 2002, Vail won in a shootout in the semis. In 2003, the Breakaways defeated the Motherpuckers, 6-3, for the Cup. … Reminder – the silent auction and raffle continue with lots of great prizes being given out today. Also, set your clock forward an hour. Otherwise, you’ll arrive at your game in the third period.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or firstname.lastname@example.org.