'Bring it on'

Puck Ewes hockey team looking to defend Women's Association of Colorado Hockey trophy

— Some say hockey is supposed to be a man's sport.

Tell that to the women who are members of the Puck Ewes.

Most of the women who chase the black cylindrical piece of rubber around the rink aren't exactly the typical hockey players one would expect to find when peeking into the Moffat County Ice Arena on game days.

But, these ladies can play.

The Puck Ewes are the two-time defending champions of the Woman's Association of Colorado Hockey, an association encompassing the entire state.

This season is all about defending their cup.

"Most of these woman have kids and work full time," president and right-winger Gayle Criswell said. "But they sure do love their hockey."

The Puck Ewes range in age from 14 and up. The starting roster is set, but that doesn't mean interested woman can't still sign up.

"Any girls 14 and over that want to play are more than welcome to join," Criswell said.

These female hockey fanatics fit two practices and, sometimes, two games per week, into their busy schedule.

"I started about eight years ago," Criswell said. "My son plays, my daughter plays and my husband plays. It's a great way to get some exercise and forget about some stuff for about an hour or so. It's a lot of fun."

For those who think women can't play hockey, Criswell strongly objects.

"That's not true," she said. "Come down and watch us play. Some of these girls can really make guys look bad."

The WACH is a no-checking league, but that doesn't mean they are not physical.

"We scrimmage against the men," Criswell said. "It pushes us harder, and it gets a lot more physical than you would expect on game day."

The Puck Ewes lost their season opener to the Ice Monkeys, 3-1, on Saturday, despite out-shooting the Monkeys, 22-8. Criswell said improvements are under way.

"We will improve on our shooting accuracy," she said. "The season is early on yet. There is lots of time."

Criswell credits the coaching of Jerry Strahan and good positional players as the sources of her team's success.

"We work really hard in practice," Criswell said. "We have the mentality that we always want to win."

Winning has become a habit for these women, and Criswell says they aren't about to give up the cup easily.

"Bring it on," she said to those who wish to try and take her team's trophy. "We won't give it up without a fight."

John Vandelinder can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com.

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