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Second-Year Lady RoughRiders Climb Steep Path to Nationals

By Matt Mackinder - Special to USAHockey.com, 03/27/15, 10:30AM MDT

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Former UND player Jordan Slavin joined the Colorado Tier II 16U team as a coach this year.

LANSING, Mich. -- Jordan Slavin played for one of the top collegiate women’s hockey teams in all of NCAA Division I at the University of North Dakota.

When she graduated in 2013, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to continue in the sport, but when she arrived back home in her native Colorado, little did she know she had a job waiting for her — coaching.

Now in her first year at the helm of the Rocky Mountain Lady RoughRiders’ Tier II 16U team, Slavin has taken the knowledge she gained from playing the game and is passing it on to players just as anxious as she was way back when at that age.

“After college, I was kind of bitter and didn’t want to play hockey any more, didn’t want to have anything to do with it,” Slavin said. “One of the coaches last year reached out to me and said he wanted some help, and I did it and fell in love with the game all over again.

“I’m really pumped to grow girls’ hockey in Colorado and develop the girls, especially at a younger age. Knowing all the things I learned in college, I want to try to teach it to them at a younger level so that they can develop their game sooner.”

Still, making the transition to sitting on the bench during a game and now standing behind it was an adjustment at first for Slavin, but now, she said, it’s second nature.

“I always want to suit up and get out there with the girls,” she said. “It’s all about giving back now to the hockey community.”

This season, in just their second year of existence, the Lady RoughRiders made noise all season long and have shown other girls’ programs in Colorado that they are legit and certainly have the ability to compete with anyone in the state.

Slavin said she knew prior to this season that the RoughRiders could contend for a national championship, and even after losing a tough tilt to the Livonia Knights 5-4 to open the Toyota-USA Hockey National Championships in Michigan’s capital, she is still confident in her group.

“We have a lot of personalities on this team,” Slavin said. “They all have their own unique personality, and the fact that they can all work together and come together for a common goal is huge. At the beginning of the year, we had some girls that were definitely more talented than the others, but we started using USA Hockey’s ADM model to develop those lower-level players caught up, and I think we’ve proven ourselves out there. The girls are all on the same page, and are working well together on the ice.”

And with success comes opportunities for growth and advancement. Some girls on the RoughRiders travel 90 minutes or more one way just to get to practice each day.

Read that again — just to practice.

Dedication? Absolutely, according to Slavin.

“We’re doing well for this only being our second year as an organization, and we’ve managed to pull some girls in from all over Colorado,” Slavin said. “They all want to be here. They’re ready to go and they’re excited. I think nationals is something all the girls have in the back of their minds, and we can’t think about because we have other tournaments to worry about, but getting to this point of the season is definitely the driving force behind our organization.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.


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