From left, Sarah White, Ripley Bellio and Taylor Shrode recently were selected to play in the May 5 to 9 Rocky Mountain District Player Development Camp in Salt Lake City. The players were teammates on the Craig Cougar bantam hockey team, which advanced to the March frozen four tournament in Gunnison.

Photo by Ben Bulkeley

From left, Sarah White, Ripley Bellio and Taylor Shrode recently were selected to play in the May 5 to 9 Rocky Mountain District Player Development Camp in Salt Lake City. The players were teammates on the Craig Cougar bantam hockey team, which advanced to the March frozen four tournament in Gunnison.

White, Bellio and Shrode selected to attend elite hockey camp

— After hearing that they had been selected to play in the Rocky Mountain District Player Development Camp, teammates Sarah White, Ripley Bellio and Taylor Shrode had the same reaction.

“I screamed,” White said. “Then I called Ripley, and she was screaming pretty loud.”

“Ripley was probably the loudest,” Shrode said.

When the screaming subsided, the three learned they would be representing the Craig Cougars bantam hockey team at the May 5 to 9 camp in Salt Lake City.

The three will be placed on teams with other girls from the seven-state Rocky Mountain District.

The winning team will have a chance to compete at the June nationals in Rochester, N.Y.

For the three girls, who consider themselves sisters, being selected together to the invitation-only camp made the honor even sweeter.

“I’m happy all three of us made it,” Bellio said. “It’s so much better this way because we’re not just teammates, we’re best friends.”

“It means a lot to me that it’s not just one of us going,” Shrode said. “With all three of us, we can support each other.”

Bellio, 13, has been playing hockey for six years, with the past two spent as a member of the traveling teams.

On the traveling team, she has been skating with boys mostly, so playing with only girls will be a change, she said.

“The girls are so much different to skate with,” Bellio said. “I think it’s easier to play with boys.

“Girls are much more fast-paced. There’s more passing, and you have to play smarter.”

Shrode, 14, said playing against other talented girls will help her game as she prepares for the midget level next season.

“It’s going to be good to skate with girls who play at a higher level,” she said. “I’ll have to skate at their level.”

White, 14, said she has become used to playing with her male teammates, so playing on an all-girls team will be a new experience.

“It will be pretty interesting,” White said. “Playing with girls is so different than playing with boys.

“The girls are more fast-paced.”

Like Shrode, White said she expects to become a better player because she will play against tougher competition.

“It will be good for me,” she said. “They are all really, really good.”

White said she was also happy to be representing Craig.

“It’s pretty cool because Craig is a small town,” she said. “I think it will be an honor.”

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