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NEWPORT â€“ The Vermont Shamrocks U-16 girls hockey team took second place at the Tier II New England Hockey championships this past weekend, earning the squad a chance to compete for the national title in Dallas next week. Usually only one team is sent from the region, but many at USA Hockey believed that they were leaving out one of the best teams in the country and are allowing the Shamrocks to compete for the title.
Vermont lost in the championship game to the defending Tier II National Champion Connecticut Polar Bears, but the two teams have traded wins throughout the years and it would be a great rematch if the two meet in the title game.
The Shamrocks are comprised of high school players from across the state, including one from here in Orleans County.
Corrina Cota, who attends Lake Region but spends her winters playing for the North Country Girls Hockey Team, is one of the Shamrocks making the journey to Dallas, and she couldn't be happier about it.
"I feel like I am still in shock," said Cota. "This is a great opportunity, I've never been to Dallas before and I am very excited."
The families will travel on Tuesday, but unlike a lot of the other teams in the tourney, Vermont is a non-profit team and the players and their families must cover all of their expenses themselves.
"Hockey is an expensive sport, and we have budgeted for the season, but we did not expect this one," said Jeff Cota, Corrina's father.
To help defray the cost of the trip the Shamrocks are doing as much fundraising as the can in the very short window they have been given.
The girls themselves are selling raffle tickets at the price of two for a dollar or three for five. Each ticket sold will go directly to help that player defray her personal travel expenses.
The grand prize is two box seats to a Red Sox game this season, with the runner-up receiving four tickets to a New England Revolution soccer game, and will have a choice of which game to attend (catch David Beckham before he retires).
Vermont is also doing an online auction on the team's website www.vtrocks.org.assn.la/ where supporters can bid on a variety of items. The money generated from the auction will go for the team's expenses while in Texas, such as food, transportation, etc...
If you are thinking that these are a bunch of rich hockey girls that do not need the money, you could not be more wrong.
The players come from a variety of financial backgrounds, and while yes some families can afford the trip with little problems, other can not, hence the fundraising.
Said the younger Cota on the process, "Every little bit helps, and any donation is truly appreciated."
So far she has received a donation from the Friends of North Country Hockey, and will be looking for contributions from local business' and organizations as well.
Now, do not expect the Shamrocks to be using the money they raise to dine out every night at all the Dallas hot spots.
Said Jeff, "It will be a lot like other tournaments we go to. We will get some coolers, fill them with fruit, vegetables, lunch meats, or what have you, and go from there."
Vermont is usually one of the more frugal teams at these types of events, and are known for bringing their grills with them, filling hotel courtyards with the sweet smell of grilling meat and veggies.
Upon arrival, the team will have all of Tuesday to prepare before they kick off the tournament against the Chicago Bruins in the opener at the Dr. Pepper Arena. The venue serves as the Dallas Starsâ€™ practice facility as well as the home rink for the Texas Tornado's of the North American Hockey league.
Vermont will also square off against the East Coast Wizards and Mt. Clemens in the round-robin, before seeing where they sit for the play-offs.
The Shamrocks have faced and beaten multiple teams that will be in Dallas, and they stand a very good chance of bringing home some hardware when the tourney ends on Sunday April 1st.
"We are going to have to work hard, we have a solid team, but like I said, we are going to have to work," said Corrina on what Vermont must do in order to have success in Texas.
If you are interested in purchasing raffle tickets to help support Corrina and the Shamrocks, please contact her father Jeff at 802-279-6710.
If you would like to make a donation, please send it to the Newport Daily Express, Attn. Cota/Sports PO Box 347, Newport, VT 05855, or drop it off at our office in person.
The deadline to make a contribution is Monday March 27th at noon.
We at the Express wish the Shamrocks the best of luck in Texas, and will have full details and pictures of their trip once they return.