Continuing her legacy: Steamboat Stampede host tournament in memory of local hockey star
For the Steamboat Stampede U19 girls hockey team, the Adele Dombrowski Mountain Divas tournament is the peak of the season and brings out the best in the girls on and off the ice.
Dombrowski, a former Steamboat hockey star, died at 17 years old in 2005, and the tournament was named in her memory. While none of the active players on the Stampede’s U19 team were alive in 2005, head coach Mike Nelson said Dombrowski’s spirit lives on through these girls each season.
Dombrowski’s mother, Kris Stouffer, returns to the tournament every year to speak with the girls and to continue to spread her daughter’s message of putting forth a strong work ethic, playing hard, being a good sport and, above all else, having fun.
“Being part of the tournament is moving,” said Mira Smith, a player on the Stampede’s U19 team. “It is really inspirational knowing how much Adele used to love playing hockey. It gives us a warm feeling inside and a new sense of gratitude to be able to play.”
Smith explained the team does not have many home games on its schedule, and being able to perform at a high level in front of her friends and family makes the Adele tournament the most special of them all.
The U19 tournament began Friday with Steamboat up against Wyoming. The Stampede managed to strike first with the only goal of the opening period, but Wyoming stormed back to tie the game at three-apiece by the end of regulation.
In a three-versus-three sudden-death overtime period, Steamboat’s Claire Shea buried the puck in the back of the net off an assist from Allie Nelson to secure the 4-3 victory for Steamboat.
Shea said being able to do that in front of so many younger girls in the Stampede program made it particularly exciting, and the U10 girls are her favorite cheerleaders.
“That overtime period was some fun hockey,” Shea said. “That is when those butterflies turn into excitement, and it felt really good to turn out like that. Hearing everyone cheering and having the whole team come out for you made it a great experience.”
Shea marveled at how much this tournament has grown over the years. So many teams came to compete across several age groups this season, forcing the tournament to be spread across two weekends.
Mike Nelson believes the Adele tournament is the biggest in the state and potentially biggest in the region. He was happy to see eight teams compete at the U19 level but expects even more will join in the future.
The Stampede will continue play through the weekend with two matches Saturday and the U19 and U16 finals Sunday.
“You can see the goosebumps that pop up on these girls every Adele tournament,” Mike Nelson said. “It just means so much. There is the Adele tournament and then there are state finals. That is the season right there. All the other tournaments are fun, but those are the two you want to win. It means so much in this state and regionally to win Adele.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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