Rink hosts women’s hockey tourney
by Adia Waldburger
of the Record staff
The Park City Ice Arena is making every night this weekend Ladies Night as they host the second annual Goal Digger Tournament, Dec 7-9.
The tournament is one of the largest held at the rink and continues to grow. According to tournament director Shauna Slater, the event will host a record 18 teams. The big number comes from the addition of A-level teams, the highest level of competition in recreational hockey, as well as B- and C- level competition. There are also new teams from new regions scheduled to compete. Slater says that women from Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, California and Arizona will be attending the tournament. The Park City Predators women’s hockey team will be among the group.
The tournament will follow a round-robin format where each team will play three games, and then, based on points, teams will advance to the championship or consolation round.
When Slater, who is working on behalf of the Ice Vixen, a Bountiful team that calls the Ogden Ice Sheet home, first put together the tournament she had wanted increased participation from Western teams and is excited about this year’s event.
"It will be good to get some new blood," Slater said.
She says that besides increased publicity on the Web, she suspects that Park City continues to be a draw for most teams. She chose to run the tournament at the Park City rink last year because she thought it would be great to use a brand new facility, but the added bonus of a resort town in the background was also enticing.
"We want to keep it in Park City," Slater said.
Park City Ice Arena public relations coordinator Jason Glidden says that it’s the accessibility that makes Park City an ideal place to hold a large tournament. The rink still has a relatively significant amount of ice time available in comparison to other rinks and most people know about Park City as a vacation destination. He says that the relationship has grown with the Goal Digger event to the point that they block out the schedule for tournament at the beginning of the year.
In fact, the Goal Digger Tournament was so popular, that Slater had to turn 13 teams down.
"We didn’t expect that much interest," Slater said.
She is especially excited about the level of competition. She explains that A-division teams play a faster-paced game with more skating and a stronger passing game. Slater says that as women continue to improve in the West she expects the talent pool to explode. In the last few years, she notes that a lot of younger girls have been signing up for youth hockey. Locally, she has noticed a new team added to the recreational league every year.
She says that it’s the aggressive nature of the game that is encouraging the growth. Slater thinks that many older women were told that they couldn’t play hockey as children and now take full advantage of the opportunities.
"It’s the adrenaline rush," Slater said.
"Hockey is not a men’s sport," Glidden said. "Women’s hockey is growing in size here and we’re hoping that we can be a part of that."
Although the women’s game is non-check, Slater is careful to point out it is not non-contact.
"It’s full contact," Slater said. "It’s a fine line."
Not only is the recreational game open to both genders but it is also open to all ages and abilities.
"You can play until you fall over dead," Slater laughs.
Both Glidden and Slater are looking forward to offering up the women’s brand of hockey all weekend. All games are free to the public and scheduled throughout the day. Glidden also thinks it will be great for the Utah teams to be exposed to regional talent and challenge themselves accordingly.
"It helps our local teams when you play higher competition," Glidden said. "They get to see all of those teams and see what they’re up against."
The Goal Digger Tournament will be held Friday, Dec. 7 through Sunday, Dec 9. Games will be held continuously on Friday from 6 p.m. to midnight and 7 a.m. – midnight on Saturday. The championship games will be held on Sunday from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. Games will be held at the Salt lake City Sports Complex in Salt Lake as well as the Park City Ice Arena. The Park City Predators are scheduled to play on Friday at 7:15 p.m. and Saturday at 1:15 p.m. and 11 p.m. at noon and 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. For more information about the tournament, visit http://www.UtahIceVixen.com and click on the Goal Digger Tournament link.
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