By CHRISTOPHER MOORE
A hat trick from Krista Banfield propelled the Provo Blades past the Salt Lake City Black Diamonds 3-2 to win the bronze medal in the 2000 Utah Winter Games.
Playing with only half of its roster and surviving the fighting ejection of Banfield in the final minutes, the Blades won by conserving strength and capitalizing on their opportunities.
The weekend tournament was important for the Blades individually and as a team because it added experience through competitive match play and provided a test of stamina from playing consecutive days with back-to-back games.
The opening game victory was the first in its three-year team history.
Sari Prince, a center from Montreal, Canada, majoring in history, has played on the squad each during of its first three seasons. She said that the team has definitely evolved.
“We have grown as a team. There is much more interest in our hockey now than in the past. And our skill level is better.”
When asked if she had ever thought of walking away with a medal, Prince replied, “After the first game, I was confident that we could win. I guess I was expecting it.”
The tournament at Seven Peaks Arena was well attended by participants from the Wasatch Valley and Utah’s neighboring states.
The teams played a round-robin format with the standings determining placement in the medal rounds.
Game by game summary:
GAME 1: In a match marred by numerous checking and slashing penalties, the Blades’ Katy Neale scored twice in the first two minutes of play en route to a 5-2 victory over the SLC Black Diamonds. It was the first victory in Blades’ history.
GAME 2: One of the earliest (8:30 a.m.) games of the tourney was also one of the most interesting. Provo took on the Boise Bombshells with fierce and aggressive action.
Wendy Ross, a junior from Federal Way, WA., was stellar as goalie for the Blades, allowing one goal. But Provo was unable to score and Boise prevailed 1-0.
GAME 3: Against a squad from Wasatch Valley, the Blades were even almost the entire game, getting a goal from left wing Tami Barrowes and two from Prince.
But a goal with less than four minutes to play made the difference, and the Blades were slated in the bronze medal game.
Having now shown that they are a force to be reckoned with, the Blades are continuing to build their play and confidence in each other. And the hockey diehards are noticing each and every step.