Puck Ewes finish 4th in tournament

Craig women's hockey team comes up short in annual Mardi Gras event


— In this year's annual women's Mardi Gras hockey tournament, the Craig Puck Ewes had the task of playing both host and hockey in the same weekend.

The task proved costly for the home team, as the Women's Association of Colorado Hockey two-time defending champions finished fourth in the three-day tournament.

The festivities kicked off Friday.

Les than two minutes into the opening period of Craig's Friday night match-up with the Crested Butte Red Ladies, the Puck Ewes found themselves trailing by a goal after a puck shot through the legs of goalie Kandice Torno.

"It went through my five-hole," Torno said.

Ewes center Jamie Eckroth answered 41 seconds later, stealing the puck and scoring on a breakaway.

Shannon Young and Gayle Criswell assisted on an Eckroth score that would prove to be the eventual game-winner in the 2-1 victory midway through the second period.

"We were having none of that" losing, Torno said. "Eckroth stole off down the ice and won it for us."

The Puck Ewes rode Friday's momentum into Saturday's contest against the Durango Fury, blowing by the visitors, 5-0, behind Torno's sixth shutout of the season.

Tammy Strahan scored two goals and Terri Jorgensen, Jenny LeBlanc and Criswell also lit the blue light behind the visitor's net, as the Ewes jumped out to a 4-0 second-period lead.

Strahan deposited her second goal of the game in the third period for the final margin of victory.

Sitting with a 2-0 record heading into its third game in less than 24 hours, the Ewes found themselves with what Torno called a "case of the tired legs."

The previously winless Wasatch Wings blanked Craig, 3-0, in a defensive game.

The Ewes managed eight shots to the Wings' 13.

The loss placed the home team in a Sunday afternoon battle for third place with the Durango Betties - a team Torno had been subbing for throughout the tournament.

The Puck Ewes wore their throwback "Falling stars" jerseys in an effort to change things up from their previous loss.

The motivational tactic failed.

The Betties struck first with less than three minutes left in the opening period, banging a loose puck in the corner past Torno.

"The puck was just sitting there on the side of the net," Craig's net minder said. "The play was never whistled dead and Durango took advantage."

Craig defensemen Shannon Samuelson scored from the point while the Ewes were on a power play, tying the contest at a goal apiece.

Durango took the lead with 5:05 left in the game, but the Ewes had some fight left in them.

Coach Jerry Strahan pulled Torno to give the team an extra attacker and the move paid off.

Young scored with less than a second remaining, tying the game and forcing a three-person shootout to decide who would capture third place.

Durango scored two goals to the Ewes one, resulting in a 4-3 Betties overtime victory.

The tournament results had no effect on the Puck Ewes' mission to three-peat as league champions. The team sits in first in the WACH with a 6-2-1 record, 9-6-1 overall.


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