After her team lost its only round-robin tournament game, Cheryl Buchs was confident the Tampa Tribe would get another shot at the Ft. Lauderdale Lucky Pucks.
If the Tribe and Lucky Pucks each won their semifinal games, they would meet again, this time with the 40+ title on the line in the Labatt Blue/USA Hockey Adult Women’s Nationals.
Buchs got her wish and her team got sweet redemption, pulling off a 6-4 victory at the AdventHealth Center Ice in Wesley Chapel, Florida, on April 24.
“That’s my favorite position to be in. I don’t want to win the round robin; I want to win the one that matters,” Buchs said. “We played a bad game against them the first time. We gave up a lot of turnovers and they capitalized on those turnovers, and we didn’t do that in the final.”
The Tribe played a sound game on both ends of the ice in the title game as they went up 5-3 midway through the third period. In the first meeting between the two teams two days earlier, the Lucky Pucks scored four unanswered goals in a span of less than four minutes in the opening period.
“We had a pretty off morning and you could tell that it was one of those that we knew we could have played better and we could have won, so it was nice to know that we were able to do it,” Tribe team member Jenna Felice said. “We came out very strong in the championship game and scored a couple goals pretty quick, which set the tone and everybody was kind of operating in sync. It was a fun game.”
The Lucky Pucks and the Tribe are very familiar opponents since the two teams play often in different events.
“Half of our team is from Florida and half of our team is from Michigan, and a lot of us from Florida are from Michigan,” Buchs said. “But we play the Lucky Pucks in our regular league play, so there’s a rivalry there.”
Felice played for Team Michigan in 12U about 30 years ago, and her squad competed in the Chipotle – USA Hockey National Championships but wasn’t fortunate enough to win a title.
Now as an adult, Felice is making up for that lost opportunity as a young hockey player. Along with winning this year’s Labatt Blue/USA Hockey Women’s Adult Hockey tournament, a good number of the players on the Tribe also captured Nationals titles in the 30+ division playing for T-Spoon in 2011 and ’12.
“We were playing as a team for our friend who had cancer and it was her last like big hurrah before she knew she was going to succumb to cancer and we won that year,” Buchs said. “We played the following year and we won back-to-back, so that was kind of cool.”
Felice was happy to get a chance to play for another title-winning team.
“As we get older, you think that you’re going to hang it up at some point and then to come back and play at a competitive level is always exciting,” Felice said. “It’s great to have so many good friends, so everybody on the team that we played with this weekend knew somebody somehow and played together at some point. A few of us have been playing together over 20 years. It’s just great to know that we still have it.”
Buchs runs two tournaments each year locally in Florida. She also skates in about five in-state events and her traveling teammates like to get out to at least two out of state tournaments.
Buchs, who has played hockey for 50 years, enjoys getting away from her daily routine and skating with friends in tournaments.
“It’s just fun,” Buchs said. “Most women, they take care of their family first, so the kids come first, then the husband comes first or the spouse comes first. To get away on those tournaments where you can forget about your kids and just have fun and just do you, it’s awesome and I think that’s what most of the girls like.”
A weekend with the ladies was just what Felice was looking for before heading back to Michigan where she coaches young athletes.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to say that I’m still playing hockey in my 40s when I started skating when I was 6 years old,” Felice said. “The lifelong friends that have come out of it, it’s different than any other sports, because I played college basketball and college softball. But hockey … I see people in the tournaments that I played with when I was 10, 12 years old. The hockey community is just very unique and very friendly.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.