Girls hockey team to play last home game Sunday |

Girls hockey team to play last home game Sunday

Luke Graham

The Steamboat Springs girls U-19 hockey team plays its last home game at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Howelsen Ice Arena. Pictured are the eight seniors who have played together for more than five years. Back row, from left, are Courtney Garth, Lilly Hoff and Jaime Winter. Front row, from left, are Devin Wilkinson, Claire Tegl, Kyle Swoyer, Lexi Stabile and Aimee Jones.

— When Steamboat Springs U-19 girls coach Alexa Pighini went looking for players six years ago at the middle school, she had no idea what she'd uncover.

But what Pighini found was a foundation of girls — some who had never taken to the ice before — that grew up with her and the game of hockey.

Now for eight seniors, the end is near.

The U-19 girls team will play its last home game at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Howelsen Ice Arena against a team from Colorado Springs.

"My husband and I watched these girls grow up," Pighini said. "They've turned into real hockey players. It's gone from teaching them how to hold a stick, or how to skate, to running plays."

The eight seniors on the team are Claire Tegl, Jaime Winter, Lexi Stabile, Courtney Garth, Aimee Jones, Kyle Swoyer, Lilly Hoff and Devin Wilkinson.

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The girls U-19 team is 8-4 and third in the Mountain State Girls Hockey League.

The team will play twice at Vail today, before wrapping up with the final home stand Sunday.

It will be bittersweet for Pighini.

The core girls who have played have gone from barely being able to skate to being constant contenders.

The first year, the team didn't win a game and scored only one goal all season.

After winning the recreation league three years ago, the team moved up to an AA league last season.

Although the wins didn't come as easily, the girls continued to impress.

"It's been fun watching them grow up and turn into wonderful young women," Pighini said. "It's been watching their achievements and watching them play hockey."

After Sunday, the team should be in position to make the league tournament Feb. 12 through 14 in Fort Collins.

"We're winning games, and the girls are doing well," Pighini said. "We've spent a lot of time with each other. The attitudes have been positive on the bench. We do better when our whole team plays."