Steamboat Stampede U19 and U15 girls teams win state titles
When Maya Chotvacs-Chase got a penalty late in the third period in the U15 Colorado Girls Hockey League Championship game against Aspen, she thought she had lost her team the game.
Aspen had the momentum. The Steamboat Stampede went into the third leading 4-1, but Aspen tied the game and took a 5-4 lead. Thankfully, the Stampede tied it again in the third.
Her teammates killed off the penalty and maintained the 5-5 tie through the end of regulation. Wanting to make up for her mistake, Chotvacs-Chase won the game for her team with an overtime score.
“I was pretty upset,” she said of the penalty. “My teammates were encouraging, and we all wanted to win. I wanted to make it up because I had the penalty, and went out there and was trying my best to score.”
Chotvacs-Chase scored a whopping 11 goals in the five-game state tournament, helping the U15 girls to their first state title in a long while.
“We did a lot better than I was expecting. It was our team’s best hockey we played all season,” Chotvacs-Chase said. “We were moving the puck a lot and had a lot of good plays, and were talking to each other, which helps us.”
Claire Shea, one of the team captains, said that game over Aspen was one of the best parts of the season.
“It felt really good to win the tournament. I hadn’t won a state championship with my hockey team before,” Shea said. “It was a really cool experience to win with this team. Over the season we have not only connected more on the ice, but off the ice, which I think helped us have a better connection with each other, and we were all in a good mindset.”
Mia Dupre, the other team captain, expressed a similar feeling.
“We were all overwhelmed and we were so proud of each other and all so happy,” Dupre said.
The Steamboat Stampede U19 girls team also won a state championship last weekend.
The Stampede won all three games in pool play, then went on to defeat the Colorado 14ers 3-2 in the semifinals and Hyland Hills 3-2 in the final. The state title is the second straight for the U19 Steamboat Stampede team.
The team was used to facing mountain teams, including Aspen, the top team in the league.
“It was a bit of an unknown going down there,” said coach Mike Nelson. “I was a little nervous, we weren’t sure. We were really successful in the mountains. … I thought it would be us versus Aspen in the final, but these front range teams pulled together at the end and pulled out some pretty good teams.”
Nelson said the team’s success comes down to great leadership — and he doesn’t mean himself.
“We’ve got three seniors who are graduating,” he said. “Two of them grew up through the program. One of them, Ally Culver, decided to play this year — her first time playing organized hockey as a senior. I thought that was a pretty big leap for her, and she was a pretty cool girl, smiling the entire time. She improved greatly throughout the season.”
Liv Thompson, another senior, grew up playing with the boys before moving over to play with the girls, and Ayna Simones made the drive from Hayden for every practice. Additionally, captains Bella Story and Margeaux Shea provided leadership for the team.
“They provided great leadership on and off the ice, and it was great having them all year long to help manage the team and lead and set a good example of hard work,” Nelson said.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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