Friday, March 30, 2007

Vengeance on ice?

Goalie joins enemy camp to beat former teammates

Express Staff Writer

Courtesy photo Local goalie Karen Morrison wore the jersey of the Bozeman Flying Zambonis at a Senior Men?s hockey tournament in Bozeman, Mont. last weekend. Snubbed by her regular Ketchum area team, Morrison was recruited to the enemy camp for puck blocking duties. The Zambonis went 4-1 for a second place finish.

"Vengeance is a dish best served cold," so the saying goes

And a well-known local goalie demonstrated last weekend that the frozen surface of a hockey rink is a good place to serve it.

Snubbed to her regular team, Mid Valley resident Karen Morrison was recruited by the opposition, the Bozeman Flying Zambonis, who she lead to a second place finish at a Senior Men's hockey tournament in Bozeman Mont. last weekend.

To make the accomplishment even more savory, the Zambonis defeated Morrison's regular team, the Ketchum area Idaho Mountain Rangers, in a 4-3 overtime shootout.

"She stoned all five Sun Valley guys and they couldn't score on her," said Zambonis captain Jay Henderson.

Some explanation is in order.

Senior level hockey, for folks over 50, is sort of an ad hoc affair. Teams routinely organize for a tournament and breakup when it's over. Team composition can vary, depending upon who's available.

Since goalies tend to be in short supply, Senior level rules allow puck blockers as young as 40, and women goalies are often recruited to fill the rosters.

Morrison, at 48, often plays with the Sun Valley Sunsets women's team, or puts in stints at goalie for the local Senior Men's hockey league. But come tournament time, she typically joins the Rangers.

But not this time.

Rangers organizer John Heinrich explained that the Ranger team for this year's Bozeman tournament was comprised of Ketchum area players, a bunch of guys from Boise and a friend of his from Canada. The Boise group brought their own goalie and there was no room on the roster for Morrison.

"Unfortunately, Karen was left behind, and I felt really bad about that," Heinrich said. "She really felt kind of bad too, but it worked out really well for her, and I'm glad."

Feeling left out on the eve of the tournament, Morrison got a call from the Zambonis on Thursday night, March 22.

"Twelve hours before we were ready to drop the puck, my goalie came down with a fever of 103," said Henderson. "So we were looking for a goalie and I knew Karen was available."

Morrison initially declined the invitation, but changed her mind after her husband Nick told her she'd be sorry if she didn't go. So she called Henderson back, jumped into her car at 8 a.m. the following morning, drove six hours to Bozeman and led the Zambonis to a first game 5-4 victory over a team from Helena.

Next up were the Rangers, and after regular play failed to settle the issue the Zambonis found themselves in a 3-3 tie at the start of a five-man shootout. Morrison blocked all five Ranger shots, but one Zamboni scored to give Bozeman the victory.

"It was pretty spectacular to be in a shootout like that and put down all five of your former teammates," said Henderson. "Individually, she was the game for us in overtime."

Heinrich said Morrison seemed to enjoy beating the Rangers.

"She showed us up in the shootout," he said. "I didn't like losing, but it was nice to lose to her. She's the queen of Bozeman right now."

Did Morrison feel vindicated?

"Very much so," she said. But it was all in fun, she added, describing the Rangers as a "great group of people."

The Zambonis went on to win two more games, but lost in the championship match to the Billings Geezers. At 4-1, the Zambonis claimed second place.

The Rangers didn't do so bad either. They finished third with a 3-1 record.

Henderson said Morrison got good billing in a local newspaper story about the tournament.

"It was quite a story, her driving all that way to play against her former teammates," he said.

Morrison said the Zambonis showed their appreciation by passing a hat to help her buy gas for the trip home.

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