Without a rink to practice on, the Craig Cougars, a youth hockey team made up of high school players, opened the season on the road Saturday by sweeping a doubleheader from Eagle Valley, 6-1, 5-3.
"I was very pleased with the maturity level of the kids," said Cougars coach Josh Magnuson. "Over the summer they have matured a lot and they played as a championship team like they were last year."
In the first game, Thad McCollum led the way for the Cougars with a hat trick (three goals). Cody DeGuelle finished with two goals and Travis Mence had one goal and two assists. Alto Simones dished out two assists and Jason Phillips had one assist.
"During the first game we didn't have any penalties. That is really good," said Magnuson. "Thad's performance really surprised me.
"Last year, he couldn't get the puck at the end of the stick. He really stepped up to the occasion and all the kids did."
According to Magnuson, the Cougars don't have a contingent of players.
"We have nine guys out for the team and one goalie," said Magnuson. "We don't have two lines.
"We play three 12minute quarters. They were tired and I am sure that all of them slept really well."
The league the Cougars play in consists of Eagle Valley, Kremmling, Oak Creek and Gunninson.
The team has been unable to practice because the Loudy-Simpson Ice Arena is undergoing renovations to install what will be a permanent ice sheet. This project is expected to be complete by Jan. 7.
"We play each team in our league at least four times a year depending on if we make it to the championship game," said Magnuson. "A couple of the kids have been going to a pond and skating on it.
"We are back to the pond league."
The Cougars played Wednesday on the road against Vernal, Utah.
"It will be kind of a scrimmage game," said Magnuson on Wednesday before the team left. "I am sure that we will do well. We only have eight players going to that one."