Provo Blades open season with scrimmage

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    By RYAN HAMILTON

    To the uninitiated, ice hockey would probably not be dubbed a traditionally feminine sport, but the Provo Blades will prove again to be anything but traditional when the all-woman team takes the ice Saturday.

    The Blades will begin their season with the Blue and White Scrimmage. Although the team is not affiliated with any league, the colors are appropriate because they are part of BYU’s hockey club — the same club that is home to their male equivalent, the Provo IceCats.

    The organization is growing. The team hopes to be able to play as many as 12 games this season, according to Clairissa Pett, Blades assistant team captain. This is a dramatic increase in the number of competitions from their last two seasons.

    Involvement and interest in the team has climbed since the its beginning three years ago. In the first year, only as many as 10 women would show up for practice, team captain Sari Prince said. Now the team is supporting 25 girls — enough to have its own scrimmage.

    The scrimmage will provide some team members with their first experience in a real game situation. Due to the cost of getting on the ice, practice time for the Blades is short, so the team scrimmages at the end of some practices for only a limited amount of time.

    “It just doesn’t seem like enough time for us to get good experience,” Prince said.

    The Blades hope Saturday’s scrimmage will provide a format to allow the team to gain some competitive playing experience.

    “We hope to use this as an opportunity to see what the girls can do and get positions down,” Blades coach Ryan Cueller said. “I would like to see the things that we have been working on come together.”

    Admittedly, many of the Provo Blades are new to competitive ice hockey, but there is diversity. A Hungarian student on the team has experience in Olympic trials competition. On the other side of the spectrum, two mothers of young hockey enthusiasts have joined the team just to learn how to play.

    “We have a 31-year-old mother who plays on the team, and I’ll tell you that she plays with the enthusiasm of a rookie trying to prove herself,” Cueller said.

    The diversity of the team is helpful because it allows other players to have someone to learn from, assistant team captain Robynn Stoddard said.

    Cueller agreed.

    “It is nice to have some girls who can show the others what to do,” he said.

    Along with diversity, Stoddard attributed hard work as another strength of the team. The team has shown its diligence in practice, Cueller said.

    “It is taxing, but it shows the level of commitment these girls have,” he said.

    The team got a head start on the season this year, beginning conditioning practice in mid-September, and it has been practicing on the ice twice a week since the beginning of October.

    “I feel proud of the girls. They are all working so hard,” Cueller said.

    The scrimmage will take place at the Peaks Ice Arena on Saturday at 4:45 p.m. Admission is $2.

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