The Saturday evening game showcased fast and furious Beaver play in the first two periods, showing spectators that despite the long summer the Telluride’s women’s hockey team had not skipped a beat. After a picture-perfect goal scored by leading offensive player Elisabeth Gaz that tied the game 1-1 at the end of the second period, Telluride appeared in hot pursuit of their first win of the season.
A new push by game officials for stricter adherence to physical contact rules landed strong Beaver skater Kim Richard in the penalty box during the game, prompting a chorus of groans and complaints from the Beaver bench. Despite the controversial two-minute hiccup in the Beavers’ game plan, the team maintained a strong front against the Red Ladies’ hard-hitting line of skilled skaters.
Gritty Beaver goalie Barbara Kondracki was the first to feel her team’s defense failing in the third, as she withstood a pelting of shots but still clung to the one-all score.
“Babs played out of her skull, as always,” teammate Mo Hannah said later. “We let too many shots get to her, but she came up huge for us anyway.”
New mom Tiffany Lyga’s late-game fireworks may have elicited little interest from her barely 2-month-old daughter, but everyone else’s eyes were on her in the third period when she fired a rocket toward the Red Lady net. The lighting-fast, puck-scooping reflexes of Crested Butte’s renowned keeper kept the puck out of the net, but did not lessen the home crowd’s enthusiasm following Lyga’s shot.
As the game clock wound down, it seemed the tied score might hold, but a well-placed shot by one of a Butte players found purchase in the back of Kondracki’s net with only seconds left to play in the game, and the Red Ladies scraped by with a 2-1 wind.
Sunday’s early-morning game, which started an hour-and-a-half earlier than the scheduled time to allow Butte players to hit the road earlier in the day, showcased the same skilled play as Saturday’s contest. The first two periods were marked by evenly matched play between the two teams, and again the score kept an even keel at 1-1 through the beginning of the third with Richard poking in the Beaver’s sole goal.
New ringer Millie Debogue instigated several comeback attempts for Telluride in the third, after the Butte put three back-to-back shots in the Telluride net. All Beaver efforts were rebuffed, however, and the Red Ladies took the second game 4-1.
“The Red Ladies played well, although they weren’t the powerhouses they sometimes can be,” Hannah said, adding that even after last weekend’s four-game tournament in Tucson, many of the team’s players are still getting their skates under them.
The Beavers will have some time to tighten up their defense and streamline their offense between now and their next scheduled match against the Durango Fury on Dec. 3, in Durango. The next home game is scheduled for Dec. 16, when the Beavers face off against the Durango Betties.