Predators skate to second in tourney
Parkite Kathy Repko spent nearly 10 years in Utah driving from hockey to hockey rink, but never once did she step on the ice. Now she finds herself the proud owner of a second-place trophy from the Goal Digger Tournament held at the Park City Ice Arena over the weekend
Repko, a "hockey mom" of three, got her opportunity to try the sport last year when a women’s league was formed at the newly built Park City Ice Arena. Sadly, an ACL-tear suffered during a hockey drop-in session at the rink, ended her season early. This year she is back on the ice with the Park City Predators women’s hockey team, which is sporting a new coach and a new attitude.
Armed with that ammunition, the women were able to skate their way to three shutouts in the tournament before falling to a tall and fast Oakland, Calif. team in the championship game.
The Goal Digger Tournament was split into three divisions, A, B, and C, according to ability. The Predators played in the C division and easily skated past their first two games on Friday and Saturday morning, first shutting out the Sun Valley Twisters 6-0 and then repeating that same score on Saturday against the McCall Osprey.
On Saturday night, Park City goalie Amity Hlasny recorded her third and final shutout of the tournament with a 0-0 tie with the Jackson Hole Venom II.
Many of the women had highlights throughout the event, including a hat trick (three goals) by Leigh Stokes on Friday and another by Renee Weidmann on Saturday.
"It’s really exciting," said Park City player Cathy Sonnenberg. "There are definitely some rivalries with the teams. We never know how physical a team is going to be."
In Sunday’s final game, the Predators knew they were up against a strong Oakland Seals team. Not only were they outsized, but soon learned that the Seals were a faster team as well.
Park City’s Stephanie Faulkner scored a goal for the Predators in the game, but it wasn’t enough against the tougher Oakland, who won the C Championship with a 4-1 victory.
They had a lot of tricks up their sleeve," said Sonnenberg. "They were a big, strong team."
Sonnenberg said that this year, even in defeat, the team seams to rise to the challenge and ability level of whatever team they face.
"It seemed like we played better and better each game," Sonnenberg said.
The Predators rise to the win column has been a welcome one. Last year, they struggled to win games in the Goal Digger Tournament and throughout the season. This year, they have fared well at tournaments and in regular season games and are trying to build their fan base.
"We definitely need more buzz about team," Sonnenberg said. "I think it’s entertaining."
The 100-pound Sonnenberg said part of the attraction of their games and other women’s hockey is the physicality and aggressive nature of the game.
"My husband watches and says, ‘You play like you’re 250 pounds,’" she said. "We get in there and battle."
And battle they do. During a Saturday game, Repko’s teenage son Robert, a Park High School hockey player, said "You play like B teams."
She suspects his high praise has a lot to with the improvement that Park City coach Paul Kehoe brings to the tam.
"We just put alot of it on our coach," Repko said. "He’s a strong motivational factor on our team."
Besides pre-game prep talks, Kehoe has helped hone the Predators skating and fundamental hockey skills and finally has the team playing cohesively.
"We’re passing and playing as a team," Repko said. "If you don’t work as a team, you don’t win games."
Seems like that wisdom keeps holding true for the Predators.
"We keep going at it," said Park City player Lita Yazzie. "We’re fighters."
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