Hockey team playing for a title

Craig Cougar Pee-Wees earn state tournament berth

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The Craig Cougar Pee-Wee hockey team will compete against three Front Range teams for a state title beginning Friday in Littleton.

The pee-wees surprised themselves and the entire Rocky Mountain Youth Hockey League -- a Western Slope league -- by winning the league championship Sunday in Eagle.

The team was undefeated and beat the favored Glenwood Springs team twice to take the league crown.

By winning the RMYHL, the pee-wees earned a berth in the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association's championship tournament.

In a letter to Craig Cougar coaches, the association said it wanted to have a unified state champion at all age levels in the state and will host a single-elimination tournament with four teams -- three from Front Range leagues and the Western Slope champion -- for each age group.

The pee-wees are 11- and 12-year-olds. They'll play Friday at The Edge Ice Arena in Littleton.

The pee-wees won the RMYHL's northern division championship at Loudy Simpson last weekend to qualify as a No. 1 seed in the league championship tournament in Eagle. They beat Eagle Valley, 3-1, and beat Glenwood Springs, 4-1, on Saturday. In the game against Glenwood Springs, both teams skated to a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation, setting up a five-man shootout. Three of Craig's players scored, while Cougars goalie Wesley Wiffen shut out the opponents.

The teams met again on Sunday, and Craig again defeated Glenwood Springs, this time by a score of 3-1.

"I think they're still stunned," assistant coach Mark Bangs said Sun-day. "They weren't really expecting to get this far. They're peaking at the right time of the year."

The pee-wees came from behind in every game during the RMYHL tournament, Bangs said.

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