Blue Goose eyes fourth consecutive Massacre title |

Blue Goose eyes fourth consecutive Massacre title

ADAM BOFFEYSummit Daily News

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

BRECKENRIDGE – For the last 33 years in Breckenridge, the season of Cupid has been synonymous with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre rugby tournament.The Gentlemen of the Blue Goose Rugby Club, which will host the 34th annual event Saturday at Carter Park in Breckenridge, will attempt to win its fourth consecutive crown.”Winning four times in a row is hard no matter what,” said Goose veteran Zack Zellars. “We have a lot of new faces this year, so it should be a whole new dynamic.”The Goose, which scored 17 tries and gave up zero during last year’s tournament (five matches), is known for its dynamism in winter conditions.”We are used to the snow,” Zellars said. “We usually train once a week outside for five or six weeks before the tournament. Anytime you can get out there and throw the ball around in the conditions you’re going to be playing in, it helps. (Outdoor training) has helped us get our footing and understand a little how it is to run (in snow).”

“We like playing in snow,” echoed Ron Reyes, one of the Goose’s most tenured veterans. “We’re not the quickest team, but we play solid rugby. (Winter conditions) slow down some of those fast guys from other teams.”Kristin Yankowski, who will help coach Summit’s women’s team in Saturday’s Massacre, agreed that a snowy pitch serves as an equalizer.”(Our success) just depends on how the ball drops,” said Yankowski, whose team finished second to Boulder last year. “We can compete with all the other teams, but we’re not necessarily superior to any of them. … To me, anything can happen in the snow.”Saturday’s two playing surfaces have already been flattened by a groomer, which means players won’t have to muddle through waist-deep powder. If the recent weather continues, however, a snowcat will likely need to revisit Carter Park before game time.So far, inclement weather hasn’t been able to halt the storied rugby classic.”I went out in the morning one year to set up and it was 15 below zero,” Zellars recalled. “(The weather) has never stopped us, but it does play a huge part in how the games are played.”

Saturday’s men’s tournament will feature just eight teams, as compared to the 14 who attended last year, and the women’s field is down from seven to four.Vail and Aspen will be among the missing on the men’s side.”There’s a U.S.A. sevens (seven vs. seven) tournament in California this weekend,” Reyes explained. “And sevens is picking up – it’s really becoming a thing.”The Goose will begin the Massacre, which is a 10s tournament, at 10:20 a.m. against Chicago. The hosts are also scheduled to face Fort Collins (12:20 p.m.) and Western State (1:20 p.m.) in Pool B play. Pool A is comprised of Glenwood Springs, Adams State, Durango and the Denver Harlequins. The top two teams from both pools will advance to the semifinals. The Summit women will face the Lady Harlequins at 9:40 a.m., the Colorado School of Mines at 11:40 a.m. and the Boulder Babes at 1 p.m. All four teams will be seeded for semifinal play.

The Gentlemen of the Blue Goose’s players will be attempting to make tournament history on Saturday, regardless of what Mother Nature has in store. “We don’t think any team has won three in a row before,” Zellars said. “If we can advance to the finals and win it, we’ll be breaking new ground (once again).”Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634, or at