Park City Predators earn silver in local tournament |

Park City Predators earn silver in local tournament

Christopher Kamrani, The Park Record

Despite falling 2-0 in the championship game of the annual Goal Digger Tournament at the Park City Ice Arena last Sunday, Park City Predator forward Leigh Stokes said the loss to the Five Stars of Ketchum, Idaho, was one of the more enjoyable losses in her playing career.

"Even though we came in second, we played really well and we played up to the level of that team," she said. "Afterward, it was like, ‘Can we do it again?’"

The Predators played the Five Stars to a 0-0 draw in the first game of the tournament last Friday night and went 2-0-1 in bracket play in last weekend’s tournament.

"We played some really, really good defense and they played good defense," said head coach Mark Jacobson. "(The Predators) just played phenomenally Friday."

On Saturday morning, Park City ended its scoring drought at the expense of the Provo Blades, dominating the team from Utah County 6-0. The Predators outshot the Blades 23-6 and Predator goalie Cait Peterson recorded her second straight shutout of the tournament.

Amanda Noel started the scoring flurry with assists from Dina DeMarco and Lisa Ruskin. Park City went on to score three times in the second period, started by Nancy Garbett with assists from Nicki Purcell and Cathy Sonnenberg. Later in the second, it was Noel who fed Ruskin for the goal; then Garbett set up Sonnenberg for the third of the period.

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In the final period against the Blades, Noel continued her stellar game, scoring on a pass from Stokes. Claire Abbe buried the sixth and final goal, set up by Stephanie Faulkner.

"We pushed really hard on Saturday morning," Jacobson said. "On sheer hustle, they just skated their hearts out."

The Predators continued their winning ways later in the day as they defeated Jackson Hole 3-1 to advance to the championship game Sunday.

Despite Jackson Hole taking an early 1-0 lead, Peterson continued her hot streak between the pipes, consistently stonewalling waves of offensive attacks. Peterson, who started playing competitive hockey only two years ago and is in her first season as the full-time goalie, said her experience as a goalie in soccer and a catcher in softball helped her get acclimatized to the demanding position.

"It’s been about nine months since I started playing goal," she said. "It’s definitely a difficult and physically-challenging position, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of stress too, because you feel like anything you let in is your fault. My teammates gave me so much help in the tournament; the defense was just amazing."

Sonnenberg, Noel and Abbe were the goal scorers as the Predators advanced past Jackson Hole.

Peterson said the pressure of playing in a tournament with a multitude of different teams from around Utah, Idaho and Wyoming was a little different than she’s experienced in the past as part of the team, but she welcomed it.

"Night and day difference," she said. "It was so much faster and so much more intense."

Although the tournament ended with the 2-0 loss to the Five Stars Sunday morning, Jacobson echoed Stokes’ thoughts, saying it was one of the more impressive games he’s seen this bunch play.

"We had some chances for goals and we couldn’t quite finish the puck," he said. "It was a really good game. They played so hard. What was fun was that there wasn’t a team that played dirty or anything like that. It was just a good, physical game."

"They were just a faster and younger team," Peterson added, "and playing them really stepped up our own game."

After the second-place finish at the Goal Digger Tournament, the Predators could see the Five Stars again in a tournament in Jackson Hole, Wyo., in late January.