Youth hockey team claims title

The Craig Cougars pulled off an upset over the Steamboat Springs Braves to win the Rocky Mountain Youth Hockey League Tournament in the 13- to 14-year-old bracket.

The win came on the Cougars' home ice at Loudy-Simpson Ice Arena. Playing at the bantams level, this was the first league championship for players on the team. At the younger youth hockey levels, the players always fell short of the title.

The Cougars won the title by downing the Braves, 5-3, in the championship game.

Steamboat entered the tournament ranked No. 1 after the regular season, followed by Craig.

Winning the championship didn't come easy.

In the title game, Craig scored first when Aarick Seick lit the lamp at the 13:31 mark. The Braves quickly answered and tied the game at 1-1 at the 12:21 point.

Jordan Anthony was next to light the lamp for the Cougars with a laser from just outside the blue line to give the Cougars the lead, 2-1. Anthony's goal came at the 9:05 mark of the first period.

Again the Braves answered the scoring challenge, and knotted the score, 2-2, at the 6:10 mark.

The second period was a scoreless struggle with both teams working hard to no avail.

In the third period, Mike Armstrong rippled the net for the Cougars at the 13:36 mark to take the lead, 3-2. It was a lead they would never give up.

Brendan Beachman sent the local crowd into a frenzy at the 3:08 mark with another Cougars score.

The goal forced the Braves to pull their goalie late in the game, and it proved costly.

Anthony slapped a shot from his own blue line into the empty Braves net with 40 seconds to play and Loudy-Simpson again erupted into cheers. The shot from down the ice sealed a 5-3 championship win.

"This was a huge win for us," said Cougars coach Jim Wood. "They have been working on this for four years."

The Cougars first game of the tournament was against the Kremmling Kings and Craig blanked the Kings, 7-0, to set up the championships game against the Steamboat Springs Braves. The Braves advanced to the title game with a 6-2 win over Summit.

In the third- and fourth-place game, Kremmling edged Oak Creek, 6-5.

On Saturday the Pee-wees, 11- and 12-year-old teams, started the weekend tournament action.

The standings at the end of the regular season for Pee-wees were: No. 1 Oak Creek. No. 2 Kremmling, No. 3 Steamboat Blue, No. 4. Summit, No. 5 Steamboat Gold. and No. 6 Craig.

In the opening round game the Craig Cougars squared up with the Steamboat Springs Gold team and dropped a 7-1 decision.

In the next game the Cougars and the Steamboat Springs Blue team went down to the wire and Steamboat Springs escaped with a 4-3 win to knock the Cougars out of the tournament.

In the championship game, Oak Creek edged Kremmling, 7-6. In the third-place game, the Steamboat Blue team slipped by Summit, 5-4. (Game information provided by youth hockey coach Jim Wood.)

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