Red Ladies dominate to take Southwest Cup tournament title
Written by Than Acuff
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
M&M line leads Ladies
Amy Bright had a stellar weekend in net and the M&M combination of Marina Meneakis and Rachael Miller were unstoppable on offense as the Red Ladies rallied through four games to take the 2013 Women’s Southwest Cup title.
The tournament brought in teams from throughout Colorado including 2011 Cup champions Telluride, 2012 champions Gunnison and two local teams, the Red Ladies and the Stingers.
The two Crested Butte teams faced off Friday night to open tournament play with the Stingers, winning the last time both teams met.
The Stingers outskated the Red Ladies for most of the first period but struggled to find the back of the net until the third minute of the second period, when Sue Wilson scored on a rebound off a shot from Jocelyn Wallace.
The Red Ladies picked up their play as the second period progressed, with Kari Roberts, Rachael Miller and Beth Gallagher all scoring to build a 3-1 lead heading into the third period.
The Red Ladies maintained their pace through the third period as Hailee Stanley and Megan Paden each scored to seal the 5-1 Red Ladies win.
Saturday afternoon, the Red Ladies returned to action to take on Telluride, formerly known as the Box Canyon Beavers. It is one of the longest running rivalries in the Southwest and always makes for some good hockey.
While the Red Ladies lost Paden to work, they picked up WSCU hotshot Meneakis for the Telluride game.
Crested Butte opened the game off-kilter once again and Telluride struck first, scoring in the final minute of the first period.
Fortunately, Bright was spot-on in net and turned away several other Telluride shots to keep the game tight until her team found their rhythm, which they ultimately did, scoring five goals over the course of two periods for the 5-2 win.
Lisa Lynch opened the scoring with two minutes left in the second period. Eight seconds later the Red Ladies struck again as Meneakis skated straight to score for a 2-1 lead.
Miller scored her second goal in two games early in the third period for a 3-1 Red Ladies lead. Telluride responded to close the gap 3-2 but back-to-back short-handed goals from Miller and Meneakis put the Red Ladies up for good and set them up for a run at the title.
The Red Ladies opened early Sunday morning, beating Pueblo 4-0 to seal their spot in the championship game against the Gunnison Crushers.
The Crushers were the 2012 Southwest Cup champions and pulled three players, including the goalie, from the CU team to play over the weekend.
The M&M line proved they are a force to be reckoned with all weekend and enforced that sentiment early in the championship game as Meneakis took a pass from Miller to net and scored for a 1-0 Red Ladies lead in the second minute of play.
The Crushers adjusted accordingly with heavy fore-checking to keep the Red Ladies pinned in their zone and tied it up 1-1 when Brooke Moran stole a clearing pass and fed Wendy Buckhanan for a goal.
The Crushers came close 30 seconds later, breaking loose off a steal in neutral ice but Bright stuffed the shot to hold the tie heading into the second period.
The Crushers continued to press in the second period but the plan backfired as Gallagher won the puck in front of the Red Ladies net and hit Meneakis midstride breaking free. Meneakis beat the Crusher goalie one-on-one to give the Red Ladies a 2-1 lead.
Miller and Meneakis struck again three minutes later when Miller cut free to shoot. The Crusher goalie made the initial save but Meneakis followed to stuff the rebound through.
Meneakis netted her fourth goal of the game with three minutes left in the second period and after a couple of big saves from Bright, the Red Ladies appeared to be in the driver’s seat.
But no lead is safe in hockey, especially with a couple of CU hot-shots on the ice and one Suzie Parker.
As the CU skaters drew attention, Parker managed to sneak into the slot and score off an assist from Anne McNeill. The Crushers then cut the Red Ladies’ lead to one in the final second of the period when Emera Danos stole a clearing pass and rifled a wrist shot just before the buzzer sounded.
The Crushers looked to tie the game in the third period, returning to their game plan of heavy pressure in the Red Ladies’ zone, forcing turnovers and opening up shots on net.
Bright came up with a handful of huge saves and the Red Ladies defense worked hard to cut off passing lanes to hold their slim 4-3 lead.
They got a break with three minutes left as Meneakis broke free again and carried a Crusher on her back as she skated to net to score to rebuild their two-goal advantage.
But the Crushers refused to fold and Parker slipped into the slot again to score 30 seconds later. The Crushers had the Red Ladies pinned for two of the last three minutes but Bright came up big once again and the Red Ladies cleared the puck and held it in the Crushers’ end for the final minute of play to win 5-4 and take the Southwest Cup title.