The Craig Cougars youth hockey players were masters of their own destiny Saturday at home against Summit County, tying in the first game and smacking the Lightning in the second.
Against the bantam team from Summit County, it was the first time the Cougars played at the newly remodeled Loudy-Simpson Ice Arena.
Game one saw a scoreless first period with both teams basically testing each other. The teams had never played each other. The Cougars fell behind early in the second period as the Lightning found the back of the Cougars net at the 11-minute mark for a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars tied the game with 4:21 left in the period when Jacob Wood snuck one past the Lightning netminder. The Cougars took the lead a minute and a half later when Nick Goodenow lit the lamp with an assist from winger Trey Gorham. The Lightning tied the game, 2-2, one minute later, and it looked like it was going to be a high-scoring affair.
The Cougars never backed down and with 1:06 left in the second period Jordan Anthony put the Cougars back into the lead, 3-2. Anthony skated the puck the length of the ice on a breakaway and buried it into the back of the Lightning net.
Both teams picked up the pace in the third period, to the delight of parents and onlookers.
Cougars goalie Bo Boling got stingy and turned away all attempts early on, and a win was looking good for the Cougars. The Lightning had other intentions and continued to work hard. It paid off with 2:11 left in the game when they slipped one past Boling to tie the game, 3-3.
The game ended in a tie and both teams went to the locker rooms to get ready for the second contest.
Knowing what to expect, the Cougars came out ready to skate hard.
Two minutes into the first period, center Brendan Beachman lit the lamp with an unassisted goal. The quick goal sparked the Cougars to turn up the heat, outshooting the Lightning 15 to 3 in the first period. The shooting onslaught put only one puck past the Lightning goalie.
Period two was hard-fought, with the Cougars spending a lot of time in the penalty box. At the 9:12 point, winger Mike Armstrong put one to the back of the Lightning net with an assist from Trey Gorham.
Leading 2-0, the game pace increased, and people in the crowd voiced their pleasure.
The Cougars had 6 shots on goal while the Lightning had 4 shots on goal in the second period. The tension was high going into period three.
The Cougars started fast and hard and it paid off, as Billy Erickson stood strong in front of the Lightning net, and toasted the Lightning goalie just 34 seconds after the opening face-off. The momentum changed, and the Cougars started to control the game.
Beachman was next to score, with an assist from winger Jesse Hill at the 10:56 mark.
With a 4-0 lead the Cougars kept up the pressure and lit the lamp at the 8:50 point when Goodenow drove one through the Lightning goalie, breaking his stick in the process. With 6:25 left in the game Beachman again lit the lamp, to put the Cougars up 6-0, and secure his first hat trick (three goals) of the season.
With a six-goal lead, the Cougars had one thing on their minds shutout.
Tough defense, team play, and stingy goaltending from Boling helpd the Cougars hold on to shut out the Lightning.
The Cougars will next be in action Saturday in Steamboat Springs against the Steamboat Braves. (Information courtesy of Craig Youth Hockey coach Jim Wood.)