Women’s hockey to make local debut
They are doctors, ministers, social workers and stay-at-home mothers and oh, yeah, they could probably knock somebody’s teeth out if provoked.
They are the Salt Lake Black Diamonds, one of about six all-female hockey teams in the state of Utah. They are coached by Parkite Bob Devaney and feature three Park City locals, Deb Modrovsky, Lisa Rushkin and Marissa Volvic, as well as a number of players from the Salt Lake valley. These women will be showing Park City just how tough and talented they are when they play the Wasatch Wings on Sunday, April 9 at 6:45 p.m. at the Park City Ice Arena.
The match up will mark the first time women’s hockey has been played on the new ice sheet, but it certainly won’t be the last. Stacey Noonan, general manager for the new facility, is a longtime champion of women’s hockey and a very accomplished player in her own right, so Sunday’s tournament is only the beginning.
According to Devaney, the goals associated with the bringing game up to Park City are plentiful. The Black Diamonds want to promote women’s hockey to Park City. They want people to get interested in their team, which plays into May and they want to support Noonan and her endeavor to grow the sport in Summit County.
Noonan and Devaney aren’t the only ones committed to the growth of women’s hockey here. Black Diamonds defensewoman Deb Modrovsky, who is also the assistant coach for the high school boy’s squad, is at the forefront of promoting women’s hockey in Utah. According to Devaney she was a key person behind organizing Sunday’s game, and has been drumming up local interest for the sport since the opening of the rink. She is one of the original members of the Black Diamonds, and serves as the captain for the Utah state team that competes regionally and nationally.
"She grew up playing hockey. It’s in her blood," Devaney said of the upstate New York transplant.
Many of the women come from similar situations. They grew up playing hockey in high school and college and wanted to continue being a part of the sport. Others learned the game as adults and have only been playing for the past few years. Some members of the team are from the hockey-loving East Coast and Canada, one woman is a former member of the Kazakhstanian Olympic team and one player grew up in Utah playing with the boys.
Devaney said that the women’s game is a little different from the men’s version. There is no checking allowed in the women’s hockey game, and women tend to play more a more thinking brand of hockey.
"Women play with their heads. They play smart," Devaney said.
Modrovsky is quick to add that women are still aggressive, just a little more technique oriented.
"It’s slower, but more of a finesse game," Modrovsky said.
The women practice every week at County Ice Center in Murray and play the other women’s teams throughout the winter and spring. Modrovsky says that the teams are not in an official league but, instead, play in tournaments and have occasional head-to-head battles.
"They have a blast," Devaney said. "I’ve coached professionals and I’m having more fun doing this."
Devaney, who used to coach professionally in Switzerland, is joined by two other coaches who call Park City home, Jim Miles and Rusty Tucker.
Some of the players from both the Black Diamonds and the Wings have played together with the Utah team that competed at nationals. Last year, Modrovsky captained a team that went deep in the championship.
"A lot of people didn’t even know we did that," Devaney said.
Both Devaney and Modrovsky say people are still surprised to hear how strong women’s hockey is in Utah and the caliber of play on the ice.
Modrovsky is hoping to change some of the perceptions at least in Park City. Already the new rink’s Learn-to-Play-Women’s Hockey sessions have filled up and talk about forming a Park City league has already begun.
"I think the potential is big," Modrovsky said.
The Black Diamonds plan to make the new rink a regular venue for games, and also the practice headquarters for next year’s Nationals-bound team.
The Salt Lake Black Diamonds will play the Wasatch Wings on Sunday, April 9 at 6:45 p.m. at the Park City Ice Arena, located of off S.R. 248, next to the National Ability Center. Plenty of parking and game seating will be avaible. For more information on the team, log onto http://www.saltlake blackdiamonds.com.
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