Sunday, May 24, 2009
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Monday, May 11, 2009
Fairbanks hockey lasses headed to Ireland
By KORTNIE WESTFALL/News-Miner Intern
Published Monday, May 11, 2009
FAIRBANKS — Though the prep, college and junior hockey seasons are finished in Fairbanks, there’s at least one team in town that’s still kicking.
Team Alaska, a women’s team started by Debbie Kissinger, will travel across the Atlantic Ocean for a four-team tournament on May 23-24 in Dundalk, Ireland.
The team of 13 features three generations of Alaska hockey women. Joy McDonald, who started girls’ hockey in Fairbanks, will travel with the team as manager. Three of her daughters — Kissinger, Sheri Anderson and Kris Lyle — will play in the tournament, billed as the first women’s tournament in Ireland. Grandaughter Jenya Anderson also plays on the team.
Other members of the team include Julie Aarhus, Mandy Booth, Toni Brewer, Irene Cerra, Gayle Garrigues, Lucy Keturi, Debbie Kissinger, Jann Laiti, Erin Martsolf, and Kim Wood.
“I came for the cool jersey,” joked Garrigues, a member of the “O-5” line, composed of the ladies age 50 and older on the team.
While the cost of traveling to Ireland might have deterred some players, Kissinger thinks it might be a factor in the high average age of their team. With women from age 18 to “50-plus,” Team Alaska players average 40 years old and about 15 years of hockey experience.
A look at some of the opposing team’s rosters, though, shows that while the Irish and Scottish teams might have an advantage with youth — some players come in at just 13 years old — Team Alaska definitely owns the experience category.
The journey began when Kissinger received an e-mail asking if she would be able to put a team together for the tournament.
“I just asked everyone to play, and this is what turned up,” she said in the locker room after a scrimmage last week.
“It is the nicest group, and we have had so much fun so far,” Kissinger added.
One of the team’s youngest members, Julie Aarhus, was excited about Guinness. She spoke of a documentary she watched about the 250th anniversary of the famous dark beer. At 19, and the second-youngest player, Aarhus will be able to legally drink the brew in Ireland.
“We’re well supervised because we have like five moms (on the team),” joked Garrigues, before saying she’s not playing babysitter.
Team Alaska’s competition in the two-day tournament includes the Dundalk Bulls Ladies, Belfast Vixens, and the Scottish Ladies.
The tournament doesn’t appear to have an official name, but aspires to become an annual event.
All of the proceeds are going toward cervical cancer research in Ireland.
Team Alaska heads to Ireland on May 21. The short tournament gives the Alaskans a chance to see some of the sights while there. Some team members are returning on May 28, but others are staying a week longer.
The team rented a bus and plan on heading to Giant’s Causeway, a natural wonder consisting of mostly hexagonal columns of basalt. They also might see some castles. Most of their sightseeing will be in North Ireland, but they plan to hit the south end of the island as well.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.
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