Team Idaho Vipers 19U girls’ ice hockey wasn’t the favored team entering last weekend’s USA Hockey Rocky Mountain District tournament March 14-17 in the Denver area.
Yet Team Idaho never doubted itself, even after losing its first game Friday 3-1 to Aspen (Co.) Leafs.
The girls from Sun Valley Youth Hockey, Idaho Falls and McCall put it all together in their final three games of the four-game tournament.
Idaho Vipers 19U beat the Utah Lady Grizzlies 2-1 Saturday and the Littleton (Co.) Hawks 8-1 later Saturday, setting up a rematch with Aspen for the championship Sunday.
This time, Idaho goalie Evi Johnson of Hailey worked the shutout and the Vipers blanked Aspen Leafs 3-0 at Family Sports Ice Arena in Centennial, Co. on St. Patrick’s Day.
It was the first time an Idaho girls’ hockey team had captured the Rocky Mountain District tournament, Vipers coach John Stevens said.
The Vipers earned a berth in the USA Hockey National Girls’ AA tournament April 4-7 at Amherst, N.Y. near Buffalo.
SVYH graduating senior Denali Stevens scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal in the finale.
It was the fifth tournament of the season for Idaho Vipers, after meets in Denver last fall, in San Jose (Ca.), Missoula (Mt.) and Utah.
There were seven games played in the Tier II tournament. The Utah Grizzlies beat Littleton Hawks 6-2, lost the 2-1 game to Team Idaho and beat Aspen Leafs 2-1 in overtime. Aspen also beat Littleton 3-2.
In all, 48 games were played over four days crowning eight district age-class champions.
In Girls Tier I, the Dallas (Texas) Stars won 19U, 16U and 14U. In Girls Tier II, Aspen Leafs took 16U and the Boulder Hockey Club Lady Roughriders won 14U. In Youth Boys Tier I, Arizona Junior Coyotes took 15 Only, and the Colorado Thunderbirds claimed 14U.
Team Idaho Vipers has a gofundme page to raise money for their nationals trip. Access the link at https://www.gofundme.com/manage/team-idaho-u19-girls-hockey-going-to-nationals