The refrigerated ice arena at Loudy-Simpsons has given the Craig Cougars three addition months of practice time, putting them ahead of last year's practice schedule.
"This year we will have at least five hours of practice time before our first game," Head Coach Jim Wood said. "Last year we played four games before having a practice. The kids were not conditioned and didn't have that teamwork spirit that practices produce."
Tuesday was the first hockey practice for 11 and 12 year-old boys who play for the Craig Cougars this season.
"The kids had a easy practice tonight," Wood said. "I didn't want to work the kids too hard because injuries could occur."
The ice arena is a strength for the Cougars. It allows the kids to get in better shape and learn better hockey techniques like setting up plays and shooting the puck better, Wood said.
"The ice arena is like a 10-year dream come true," Wood said. "Craig really needed one."
" I'm glad it 's finished," hockey player, Justin Heywood 12 said. "I have not been on the ice since last year."
The Cougars had a good season last year finishing over .500 and placed third in the tournament.
"I was happy when they beat the first place contenders who were supposed to win it all," Wood said.
The Cougars are a young team with three returning players and should have a great season, if they stay injury free, Wood said.
"These kids really enjoy playing hockey and love to play hard," Wood said. " They're a great team!"