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Youths ready to Rumble

Hockey tourney opens Friday

Melinda Mawdsley

For those still on an emotional high from a Red Sox win in the World Series or from a Broncos win Sunday, it’s probably hard to believe it’s hockey season.

The NHL is in the midst of a work stoppage, so the sport has become an afterthought for many in America. Steamboat Springs is different. Howelsen Ice Arena has been busy for the last couple months with the start of adult recreational leagues and the competitive youth season.

Friday, the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association begins its winter tournament schedule with the fifth annual Rocky Mountain Rumble, a B level tournament for squirt and pee wee teams.

Three Steamboat teams are part of the 12-team field that features teams from Colorado, Wyoming and Alaska.

“This is an early-season tournament,” Nancy Terry, tournament coordinator, said. “For that reason it’s kind of fun. They’re just starting the season. It’s early and they are trying to figure out what to do. The word hilarious comes to mind.”

Normally, the bantam division is included in the Rocky Mountain Rumble, but the popularity of the pee wee division this year forced the bantams out. Instead, four squirt teams, including one from Steamboat, and eight pee wee teams, including two from Steamboat, will be using Howelsen Ice Arena Friday afternoon through Sunday morning.

The players on the squirt teams are 9 and 10 years old. Players on the pee wee teams are 11 and 12. With 12 teams scheduled to take part, Terry expects 250 kids to be roaming the halls of the arena.

“It’s like a little swarm of bees,” she said. “There are teams coming in from Cheyenne and a team flying in from Alaska. I talked to the coach there. He has always loved Steamboat, and he wanted to bring his kids to a tournament in Colorado.”

Try-outs from this year’s SSYHA travel and house teams were last month, and the pee wee players were so evenly matched, two B level teams were created instead of one. Both will be playing this weekend. Glen Martin is the coach for Steamboat Mason and Morse and Drew Moon is the coach for Steamboat Community First Bank.

Dave Strang is the coach for the Steamboat Squirts, sponsored by Steamboat Resorts.

John Seymour, who was instrumental in starting youth hockey in Steamboat, moved to Denver to run the Foothills program several years ago. Seymour is brining a Foothills Flyers squirt team up to play this weekend, as well.

The SSYHA has three tournaments during the winter with the Rocky Mountain Rumble being the first. The tournaments are the only fundraisers the association has to help support and defray costs for kids to play hockey. This winter, nearly 250 kids are involved in youth hockey in Steamboat.

There is no charge for the tournament, but concessions and SSYHA T-shirts will be on sale.

— To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com


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