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© Ilona McCarty

I love this. These women are very entertaining and with hearts as big as they get. I had a great time photographing them.

Written by Guest Writer Gina Knudson aka The Den Mutha

Winters in Salmon, Idaho can feel like a relative who has overstayed her welcome. But this year, I’m not quite ready for it to end. That’s because the Cold Muthas are hitting their groove.

The Cold Muthas are a beginner women’s hockey team. There has always been an amateur adult league in Salmon, known affectionately as the wheelchair league, but they practice at 9:30 p.m. and have been known to play cards into the wee hours. And a lot of them are big hairy guys who look like they could hurt us. My husband is one of them, and frankly there have been times in our marriage when I think the opportunity to check me into the boards might have proven too tempting to pass up.

We developed a Friday morning alternative on Salmon’s gorgeous outdoor rink and started skating in December.

Several middle schoolers agreed to coach us, since many of us had rarely if ever been on skates.

It turns out that assembling and putting on our gear was the most challenging part of the season. But by Valentine’s Day, our team of a dozen or so women ranging from 20’s  to 60 mostly had acquired an impressive assembly of shinguards, elbow pads, skates, sticks, the all-important helmet, and a mismatched variety of socks and jerseys. And we spent more time on the ice than in the dressing room. And we’d started getting challenges to play games.

A select group of Sensitive New Age Guys from the wheelchair league challenged us first. Our inability to stop, shoot the puck, or understand the basic premise of the game was somewhat of a hindrance. But we had an ace in the hole — one of the Muthas also did the weekly Salmon Hockey update on KSRA, our one and only radio station. Scrapper (her Cold Mutha name) reported our “wide margin of victory” over the opposing Kelt team. This incensed them enough to challenge us again, with very similar results, except this time Scrapper showed up with a team flag (more accurately a beach towel) emblazoned with COLD MUTHAS written in black hockey tape. We might not be all that skilled on the ice, but our public relations machine was a well-oiled machine.

Next we played the 14&Under girls team. Although this sounds easy enough, many of these girls had been skating for most of their tender years. And because of their tender years, they have lots of cartilage, an ingredient most of the Muthas were sorely missing.

To compensate, it’s possible we recruited a ringer. Did we win? I guess you’ll have to listen to KSRA to find out.