As the tournament neared and the schedule showed the Preds playing three games on Saturday with potentially another two on Sunday, Coach Mark Jacobson determined that they needed to travel with a deep bench. Team member Lisa Ruskin, who also plays on the Salt Lake Black Diamonds, was quick to recruit players from her other team to augment the roster. The two teams meshed really well together.
They expected the competition to be tough and didn't know what to expect, so they went into the first game a little nervous. However, the Preds scored quickly and their defense was all-but impenetrable. The magical team won all four round-robin games, giving up only one goal. Goalie Dina DeMarco made some great saves in net but at one point asked if anyone had a sudoku puzzle to relieve her boredom. The Predators outshot their opponents consistently, with DeMarco only facing six to eight shots per game. The old hockey saying, 'Offense wins games, but defense wins championships,' was found to be true.
In the championship game against a fortified Aspen Mother Puckers team, the Predators opened the scoring early with a goal from Kate Hendrickson and then two quick goals from Shelby Low. The team went on to win 7-1. The Predators' scoring was very balanced throughout the weekend with almost everyone on the team scoring or assisting on goals. Ironically, the only two goals scored against the team in the entire tournament were by their former teammate, Beth Madsen.
"This was a phenomenal group of ladies and they played a fantastic tournament," Coach Jacobson said. "I was so happy to see the smiles on their faces every game. It was great to have coaches Eric Smith (Predators) and Tony Tyler (Diamonds) on the bench and in the locker room as well."
There was a banner on the Aspen Ice Garden wall quoting hockey legend Bob Johnson saying "It's a Great Day for Hockey." That pretty much sums up how all players and coaches felt during this tournament.
In addition to an action-packed hockey weekend, all Puckerfest participants were treated to a charity fundraiser game between the Detroit Red Wings alumni and the local Aspen Leafs men's team.
The Park City Predators women's hockey team is comprised of all levels of players and encourages new players. If you have an interest in trying hockey, they have practices every Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Park City Ice Arena.
All of the Predators send their condolences to coach Eric Smith on the passing of his mother the weekend after this tournament.