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BETWEEN THE LINES

This Isn't the Ice Capades : Espinosa, Gassaway Carry Sticks for Team California When They Skate

March 22, 1997

While thousands of students are enjoying the warm weather and relaxation of spring break, Jennifer Espinosa is spending her sojourn sweating on ice.

Espinosa, 17, a native of Thousand Oaks and a sophomore at the Pomfret School in Pomfret, Conn., plays for Team California, a regional all-star hockey team for girls 15-19.

The team, which includes 16-year old Oxnard native Catherine Gassaway, competes this weekend in the USA Hockey-sanctioned Pacific District playoffs at the Glacial Gardens Ice Arena in Lakewood.

The five-team district competition serves as a qualifier for the girls' hockey national championships April 10-13 in Marlborough, Mass.

Espinosa, a high-scoring left wing, transferred in November from Thousand Oaks High to Pomfret to improve her chances of earning an NCAA Division I women's hockey college scholarship. She recently helped Pomfret to the New England prep school Division II title, and returns to the East Coast on Wednesday.

Gassaway, a defenseman and a sophomore at Rio Mesa High, plays for the West Valley Wolves, a Midget level boys' team based at the Icoplex in Mission Hills. She and Espinosa have each been playing hockey for about three years.

"There's not too many girls playing hockey out here," Espinosa said. "But this is a good opportunity to expose the ones that are to [all-girls] games."

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