By ELWOOD K. SHELTON
Daily Press writer
Hard skating and intense pressure is the Craig Cougars' recipe for the home-ice advantage.
When the puck drops Saturday to mark the first meeting of the season between the Craig Cougars and the Oak Creek Kodiaks, the Cougars will have edge. Originally scheduled in Oak Creek, the game has been rescheduled in Craig at Loudy-Simpson to accommodate the intense Cougar team.
"We moved the game because they just don't have the ice to support my players," coach Josh Magnuson said. "Our kids have been tearing up our ice with their skating, and Oak Creek would have just been dangerous to play on."
Knowing that the game will be played at home, Magnuson can focus on the more important question what kind of talent and skill will the Oak Creek team bring to his ice?
"Well, I'm not losing sleep over not knowing what Oak Creek has as far as a team," Magnuson said. "We'll do like we do in every other game we've played, we'll line up and play hockey."
Magnuson speaks from experience. Entering Saturday's match-up boasting a 10-0 record not to mention that the Steamboat Springs Braves forfeited their second game against Craig two weeks ago because the Cougars were playing so strong Magnuson is confident that his team will be ready for anything.
"We beat Steamboat pretty well in the first game, and won by 6-3," assistant coach Randy Armstrong said. "Then in the second period of the second game, the Steamboat coach forfeited. We were ahead in the score, and playing good hockey, but he said his kids were in 'immediate danger."
While Armstrong admits that the pace of the game was fast and the hitting was hard, he didn't think that anyone was in danger of being hurt. Plans are in the works to reschedule the game later in the year.
The Cougars will have little rest after Saturday. With the upcoming Craig tournament Dec. 28 - 30 looming, players can enjoy Christmas day, then team will be back to the ice on Wednesday. While high school sports teams aren't allowed to run organized practices during vacation times, the Cougars can because they are a club team.
"Really, Christmas vacation is the reason why we're having this tournament," Armstrong said. "We wanted to break up the lag left by the break, and keep the kids sharp heading into the new year."
The tournament also comes at a key time to keep the Cougars poised for optimum performance before the Colorado Cup held in Colorado Springs.
"We just want to stay on edge until we play down there," Armstrong said.