Goose reach first Massacre finals since ’98 |

Goose reach first Massacre finals since ’98

BRECKENRIDGE – It was its first finals appearance in five years, but the Gentlemen of the Blue Goose Rugby Club wasn’t satisfied Saturday at the 28th annual St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

That’s because, after going undefeated in four games in the snow at Carter Park, the Breckenridge team was not prepared to match the size or power of the Denver Harlequins in the final.

The Harlequins, despite sneaking into the semifinals as a wild card, scored three tries in the first half and walked away with the championship. The Harlequin women – the Olde Girls – won the women’s title for the fifth straight year.

“I think we were just tired,” said the Goose’s Dustin Daugherty. “We just ran out of energy. People weren’t up for the game in the finals.”

The Harlequins scored a fluke try in the opening minutes of the title game on a ball that was kicked through almost to the goal line. They followed that with two more in the first half.

“They basically played better, stronger rugby than we did in the first half,” said longtime Blue Goose player Russ Backhouse, who was the team captain for the tournament. “I guess they wanted it more than we did, and good on them. We don’t mind losing to the better team.”

Daugherty isn’t convinced the Harlequins are better, and he hopes the Blue Goose can prove that when the summer season comes.

“We’re pretty much equal with these guys, they just had a better day,” he said. “We’ll get them back in the summer.”

The locals sailed through their four-team group (the 12-team men’s field was broken into three groups, with the group winners and a wild card making the semifinals) with wins over Glenwood, Metro State and Queen City of Denver. They then faced New Mexico- and- Denver-based All Murray’s in the semis and won 2 tries to nothing.

The Goose had home-field advantage, which includes the altitude advantage, but that may have been negated by the fact that they were hosting the tournament. Club president Buck Goroski was running around all day, answering questions and making sure everything ran smoothly. By the day’s fifth game, the Goose was cooked, and it showed in the first half of the final.

In the second half, however, the locals showed some spark and escaped without further damage from the Harlequins.

“In the second half we got our act together, and it was a closer game,” Backhouse said. “But it was too late.”

The pink-clad Olde Girls, who train and fund-raise in Denver with the Harlequin men, dominated the eight-team women’s field. They beat the She Wolves of Colorado Springs 3-0 in the final.

Jules Dukat-Lehman said the team’s key to success is experience.

“We have a lot of ladies who have been playing for 10, 15 years,” she said. “And we have a lot of good athletes.”

Three of those athletes are Summit County residents. Summit High School geometry teacher Kristin Yankowski plays for the Olde Girls, as does Silverthorne’s Carrie Roelle. One of the team’s best players is local resident Suzanna Barth, who also plays for the U.S. National Team.

The Massacre is the biggest fund-raiser of the year for the Blue Goose. The day, which began with games before 9 a.m., ended in the late evening at the Gold Pan Saloon in downtown Breckenridge.

Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at

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