By ELWOOD K. SHELTON
Daily Press writer
Game on, eh.
For coach Josh Magnuson and the Craig Cougars midget hockey team, game on started last Saturday with two wins over Steamboat Springs. A 3-2 win in the first game, and a 4-0 shutout in the second.
The Cougars allowed only eight shots on goal in both games.
The wins are the beginning of the title defense and entrance to a tougher league of play for the Cougars.
Last season, the Cougars were the end-of-the-year tournament winners, beating the team that beat them twice in the regular season the Gunnison Blades.
In the past, the Cougars have strictly competed in the Class B recreational league, which is composed of club teams.
Saturday's games, though, were the precursor to the Cougar's entrance to play against A and AAA teams fromColorado, Wyoming and Utah.
"We look to be twice as strong as last year and need the competition that the larger classes provide," Magnuson said. "We also want to let the state of Colorado know we're here to play."
The Cougars won't have to worry about finding the experience to lead them to another winning season, since they only lost three seniors last season.
This season, the Cougars will have eight seniors and an overall strong team. Those who have come up from the bantam class have worked into the system well, and most will find time on the ice, Magnuson said.
Despite a deep and strong bench, the team's strength will come from its senior class.
That strength will be in the form of defense and one of three different goalies tending the net. Two of the prime goal tender choices are seniors Calab Kinkaid and Victor Gonzales.
"Both of these guys are strong goalies," Magnuson said. "Kalab sits strong in the goal, and Victor is a wild man in the net."
Brice Fenton is the lone-senior defenseman who has a lot of physical size and a strong slapshot, Magnuson said.
"Our defense is what our real strength is," left wing Mike Armstrong said. "They've been pinning the opposition to the boards and making it easy for the offense."
Seniors Alton Simones and Travis Minnis will be on the offensive attack, with Simones having quite a resume to back up his game.
He was honored on the All-Festival team at a Festival Camp in Colorado Springs this summer. He was one of the few from the Western Slope to receive the honor.
The Cougars will play their third game of the year Saturday on their home ice against the Kremmling Cattle Kings.
The Cougars have one major advantage against the Cattle Kings as the Kings have yet to skate this season.
"It's going to be tough for them since they haven't skated yet," Simones said. "But that's the way it goes."