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Local teen skates at national championships

April 28, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Even while vying for a national championship title, local ice hockey player Alli Zube remained cool under pressure.

"I wasn't nervous," said Alli, 13, whose all-female team earned a third-place win at the 2003 U.S. Youth and Girls'/Women's National Championships in Philadelphia. The competition was held April 2 to 6.

Alli and her Tier 1 team, the Rockville, Md.,-based Montgomery Blue Devils, won three out of five games to secure a bronze medal.

The Blue Devils beat girls' teams from Texas, Connecticut and Wisconsin, and lost to teams from New York and Massachusetts, said Alli, who is the daughter of Judy and Alan Zube.

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In addition to her team's wins, the action-packed tournament's high points included the Blue Devils' goalie earning the top rank nationwide in a skills competition, and the team's assistant captain scoring three goals in one game, Alli said.

"That felt good," she said.

It didn't feel as great when Alli, who is used to playing on rougher coed and boys' ice hockey teams, landed a penalty during the game against Connecticut for knocking an opposing player into the boards. Or when her team's goalie played the last half of the game against Wisconsin with a broken finger.

The close match between the Blue Devils and the top-seeded Massachusetts team drew more spectators than just about any girls' game at the championship, Judy Zube said. Even players from a team the Devils defeated rooted for Alli's team, she said.

"We ended up losing but we played so well. We were the only team in the tournament to give them a game," Alli said. "We felt like we had second place."

The seventh-grade honor student at Springfield Middle School started playing hockey at age 6 - one of a handful of female participants in the Hagerstown Youth Hockey Association. Alli played defense on primarily male teams until last spring, when she was recruited to try out for the Montgomery Blue Devils - then the closest female team to Washington County.

Alli was among 20 out of 48 girls who made the team, her mother said.

Last fall, Alan Zube helped launch the area's first all-female ice hockey team to compete in the Capital Beltway League's under-15 age division. The 13-member Mid-Maryland Icebergs team practices at the Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex and at Skate Frederick (Md.) to accommodate players who travel from opposite sides of the state, said Alan Zube, team manager and assistant coach.

Alli said she has relished the camaraderie she shares with her female teammates.

The youngster has divided her time between practices and games for both teams, but said she now will have more time for local activities since she is too old to play for the Blue Devils next season.

Alli said she plans to play soccer, hockey, basketball and softball. In addition to sports, she plays violin in the Springfield Middle School orchestra.

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