Craig hockey player Kaitlyn Shrode lacing up for national championship | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig hockey player Kaitlyn Shrode lacing up for national championship

Teenage athlete seeking spot on Michigan team for future

The members of the Colorado Select Girls Hockey Association 19U AAA Tier I team jokingly bite into their medals after winning the Rocky Mountain District Championships. Craig's Kaitlyn Shrode (47) is among the players who will join the team at the 2016 USA Hockey National Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Most hockey players in Craig have already packed up their sticks and skates, but Kaitlyn Shrode will need her gear for a bit longer.

As a member of the Colorado Select Girls Hockey Association, Shrode qualified for the 2016 USA Hockey National Championships alongside her teammates on the 19 and younger AAA squad with CSGHA.

"It's going to be a very hard competition, definitely something I haven't seen yet in the league that we're in," Shrode said.

The girls 19U Tier I tournament takes place Thursday to April 4 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Colorado Select will start with a game against Minnesota's own St. Mary's of Shattuck, following that with the East Coast Wizards, of Bedford, Massachusetts, and Detroit HoneyBaked Hockey Club.

The elite event will be the toughest test of the season, said Select coach Karen Rickard. The girls hockey program dominated at multiple levels in the Rocky Mountain District Championship Tournament as 19U, 16U and 14U teams each beat out the Dallas Stars Elite program, 19U taking wins of 4-2 and 5-1 to move on to nationals.

Based in Littleton, CSGHA features young women from multiple states, including Arizona, South Dakota, California and even Georgia.

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"We don't get to see some of our fly-in players as much, but we're that much better as a team with them," Rickard said.

As someone who lives in state but not in the area, Shrode's practice time with Colorado Select is not as frequent, but she is a strong contributor come gametime thanks to playing with the Moffat County Bulldogs 18U Midget team.

"She's been very coachable, she's smart, she's got a lot of speed, on the forecheck she brings a lot of energy and attack," Rickard said. "She puts a lot of pressure on the defensemen and create turnovers so we can create scoring opportunities. The other thing that I really rely on her for is her ability to kill penalties. She's taken ownership of it, probably one of my top two in that situation."

As a junior at Moffat County High School, Shrode hopes to continue playing hockey throughout her teen years, even considering a tryout with a prestigious 19U AAA team in Lansing, Michigan, which could mean relocating for her senior year.

"I don't really want to move, but I want to get the best two years of hockey I can," she said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.