The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

Creek Welcomes first Ever Girls’ Hockey Team

Quinn Rudnick
Eaglecrest senior forward Sammy Brennan (#26) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during a game against Chatfield on September 16. Creek lost 4-2

For the first time, Creek has introduced an all-female ice hockey team to this year’s sports roster. Held during the fall season, the team is Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) verified and will compete in the Colorado Prep Hockey League (CPHL) alongside schools like Chatfield, Monarch, and Castle View. For most players, the team creates an opportunity they haven’t experienced before; playing for their school.

“I definitely like high school hockey better than club hockey,” senior forward Camryn Wagner (#9) said. “I feel like people take it a lot more seriously, there’s a higher level of play, [and] also many more opportunities for development.”

The process to start the team began in April, when Creek hockey staff members like Jeff Mielnicki, Executive Director of Hockey Operations and varsity boys’ hockey head coach and Lauren Gunter, who became the girls’ head coach after the team was finalized, worked to create the team from the ground up.

“It is kind of a heavy weight to be the first coach of the first team in the first season,” Gunter said. “There’s a lot of ‘everything’s going to be built on what we do this season.’ So while it’s a heavy weight, it also seems like such an awesome opportunity to do it well, and that’s why I was just so excited to be involved in such a huge way early on.” 

For most of the team, including coaches and staff, hockey has been a key part of how they grew up, making the inaugural season more important. Throughout the season, Gunter has been working to spark that same feeling in young hockey players that she experienced when she was in second grade. 

“There was a group of high school girls that came to my school, from the high school team, and told us about [hockey] and how fun it was… and said, ‘Hey, we play hockey. Girls can play hockey too.’ And I was like, ‘I’m quitting cheerleading. I want to go, this sounds way more fun,’” she said. 

Gunter also recognizes the increase in funding and resources for girls’ hockey through the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA,) which works to grow hockey’s presence in Colorado through various fundraisers. This year, Creek’s hockey teams have partnered with the Colorado Avalanche and CAHA to spark interest in hockey for young girls. 

“I feel like there’s so many more resources in Colorado than were available when I was a kid,” Gunter said. “We have support from CAHA and the Avalanche to be able to go out and provide these kinds of days where girls can try the game in an environment that’s not competitive or scary.”

Nationwide, there are only 211 high school girls’ hockey teams, and 698 men’s teams. There are 59 girls’ teams in Colorado, and of that only two are in CCSD, Creek and Eaglecrest. 

Creek players view the new team as an opportunity to introduce more hockey to the district, and advance the recognition girls receive in hockey. 

“This team is an awesome opportunity to grow the game of hockey to girls all around,” Camryn Wagner said.

To further increase the availability of women’s hockey, Creek opened up the team to other schools in and out of the district. Few schools in the CCSD have a dedicated girls’ hockey team, so players have begun to join developing teams. 

I like being able to play for Creek,” senior center Kinsley Tritz (#13) said over text interview. “I go to Arapahoe so when people ask me what team I play on, they think I’m crazy, but I love it!

Unlike most high school sports teams, winning is not what Gunter wants. Developing a team culture, building up positive relationships, and creating leadership has remained the team’s main goal throughout the season. 

We are encouraged by what we have seen from our team. We are seeing consistent improvement from our players and team chemistry is improving,” assistant coach Corey Wagner said. “Our players are competing and working hard in every game.” 

Gunter has also focused on helping the team develop hockey-based interests outside of just gameplay. She has worked to foster players’ interests in careers like sports psychology and medicine by helping players network and begin researching possible career paths. 

“I feel that it’s my job as their coach to help them pursue these endeavors, whatever it may look like,” Gunter said. “Being a good resource for my players is really important to me so that whatever that they want to go into, I have a person or multiple people and a network I can plug them into to be able to help get them there.”

The players recognize how much of an impact Gunter has had on the team, whether through her efforts to build a positive team culture or working to develop individual talents.

Coach Lauren is amazing, I love her,” Tritz said. “She’s so positive and gives everyone a good amount of ice time. I also think she handles things very well. For this being her first year as a head coach, she’s doing amazing.”

Despite strong team chemistry, most of the players are multi-sport athletes, making it more difficult for coaches to schedule practices and games.

“With many of our players being multi-sport athletes,” Corey said, “We look forward to the winter portion of the season to have all of our team at our practices and games more regularly.”

The whole team has welcomed the opportunity to bring more recognition to women in hockey and develop a strong girls’ team for Creek. 

“This team means so much to me, I love all the girls on the team and I am so glad I got to meet them,” Tritz said. “I am so excited to watch girls’ high school hockey grow.”

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About the Contributor
Quinn Rudnick
Quinn Rudnick, Junior Editor-in-Chief & Sports Editor
Hello, my name is Quinn Rudnick, and I am a junior at CCHS - and this is my third year on staff at the USJ. This year, I am the Junior Editor-in-Chief and Sports Editor. I hold a strong passion for both journalism and photojournalism, and intend to pursue a career in political journalism. As a journalist, I strive to present information to the student body and beyond in a factual and digestible fashion. I write a lot about local and global politics, as well as local theatre and events around the school. You can find me at a lot of Creek sports games, fueling my passion for sports photography and reporting. Outside of the USJ, I follow Formula One racing, the Nuggets and the Avs, and I love snowboarding.

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