TELLURIDE – Box Canyon Beavers’ coach Ray Cody is pretty sure that Telluride has the best women’s hockey club on the Western Slope.
“We are playing fundamental hockey. We’re not doing anything fancy, but we’re winning all the little battles. And that’s where we’re winning the war,” he said, pointing to the team’s 8-4 record.
So far this season, the Beavers have beaten teams from Denver and the University of Wyoming. And they’ve beaten them bad – 9-0 and 6-1. They came in second at the Mardi Gras hockey tournament in Craig earlier this month, and they’re preparing to demolish their competition at the Telluride tournament scheduled for March 7 and 8. Perhaps most notably, the Box Canyon Beavers are building a program none in the region can shake a stick at.
This season’s Beaver roster boasts a whopping 35 players, enough to field two stacked Telluride teams (an A and a B). This year’s impressive numbers follow on the heels of a few seasons of growth for the program. Reported Christine McGinley, one of the Beavers’ many star players (who, amazingly, only began ice skating three seasons ago), in the 2007-2008 season, the team added seven "never-evers" (never skated before) with a total of 26 players. In the 2008-2009 season, the team added another nine "never-evers," enough to make two teams.
The cause for this spike in interest in the Beavers hockey program, which has been around for years, is a combination of factors. McGinley pointed to disciplined, high intensity coaching from Cody, an experienced hockey coach toting a resume that includes stints with hockey clubs of all levels including USA hockey. Cody, not surprisingly, pointed to his players, who represent a myriad of hockey backgrounds yet manage to meld on the rink as a dangerous, well-oiled machine.
“A couple of gals have brought the game to a different level for everybody,” he said, noting that the recent addition of a few star-studded players has helped catapult the program to its current triumphs. Katherine Barrows played at Princeton, Emily Corin at Boston College, and goalie Lisa Hagen put in time with the University of Minnesota-Duluth women’s hockey club. But Cody explained that the Beavers aren’t just a good team carried on the strengths of its few ex-collegiate players.
“The local girls have really stepped up their game,” he said, dropping names of the ever-aggressive local sportswomen Kim Richard, Katy James and Elizabeth Gaz, who add intensity and athleticism to the Beavers roster. “Our core of college hockey players, combined with our core of great local athletes, has turned this into a winning hockey club,” Cody said.
The next competition for the Beavers’ B players is this weekend at an in-house scrimmage. McGinley encouraged all women in town who are interested in playing to come to the rink and put in some ice time.
The A players will be hosting the San Juan Snakes (Ridgway men’s team) on Feb. 28 at 8 p.m., followed by an A tournament at the Hanley Rink on March 7 and 8.