Craig Youth Hockey teams to hit ice

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The Craig Cougars midget hockey team, which is the club equivalent of high school hockey, sent three representatives to Colorado Prospect Weekend Aug. 16-18 at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

The weekend saw seniors Travis Menge and Alton Simmons, and sophomore Mike Armstrong duking it out in a round-robin tournament with the best that Colorado has to offer in prep and youth hockey.

The three Craig hockey players were members of last year's championship tournament team, and one among their ranks was chosen as a top player at the tournament.

Menge, a forward, who in the third game of the Colorado Springs' tournament was named the team's MVP with one goal and two assists and was chosen for the tournament's All-Star team, an honor only 18 out of the 90 tournament's participant receive.

"It was a great honor to receive, since the caliber of the players who attended was extremely good," he said. "I also think that the fact we had three players invited to the camp, and one honored is a good sign for the season to come."

The season to come is almost here.

Registrations are being accepted through Friday for Craig Youth Hockey. The season starts in November. The early registration is done because of the amount of paperwork entailed in fielding, or in the Cougars' case icing, a team.

"We've got to give ourselves around a month to complete all the paperwork that the U.S.A Hockey Association requires, or we'd never be able to start season on time," Craig Youth Hockey President Randy Armstrong said.

Craig Youth Hockey runs two separate leagues for players ages 8 to 18 years old.

There are two leagues: The house league, which is a in-house team geared for beginners, which does not travel, but does play weekly games and the competitive league, which is the equivalent of high school or prep hockey, but is not affiliated with the high school itself.

The competitive league has four different levels which the players can participate in, all split up by age.

The youngest level of the program is the Pee-Wees, which is a 10-and-under team. Squirts are the next level for children ages 12 and under. The Bantams is a team comprised of players 14 and under. The high-school level team is called the Midgets, and incorporates players 15 through 18.

Last year, the house league supported about 40 players, while the competitive league supported about 70 but Craig Youth Hockey organizers don't want to stop there.

"Really, we want to double those numbers, and with the steam the program's picked up in the past few years, I think it can be done," Armstrong said.

The cost for the house league is $155 per player, with all equipment provided for them. The house league is the only one that Armstrong knows of that provides equipment for its players.

It costs $350 to play in the competitive league, which has a markedly longer and harder season. The house league runs January through April, while the competitive league runs November through March.

This year, the Moffat County United Way provided the Youth Hockey League with a grant which they will use for scholarships to ease the cost of playing hockey.

"We'll hopefully be able to give out a lot of scholarship this year to both the competitive and house players," Armstrong said. "This will hopefully help double our numbers."

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