Bantams, Bulldogs make finals

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The Craig Cougar bantam hockey team brought home a trophy from the Turkey Bowl Tournament in Vail, but the hardware might not stay in Craig for long.

"We're going to talk about sending it back tonight," coach Jim Hall said before Tuesday's practice. "We played good enough to win the tournament, but our conduct in the final game is something that we need to change."

The bantams were called for 15 penalties against tournament host Vail and lost 2-1 in the team's third game of the weekend. The loss set up a rematch with Vail in the championship game, but the hosts withdrew from the tournament, citing the Cougars' conduct.

"Our kids wouldn't settle down when the penalties started," Hall said. "They let the calls get to them, but I think that will change."

Hall said his team played at a disadvantage most of the second and third period because of penalties.

"Considering we were on the defense most of the game, the result wasn't too bad," he said.

The first two games went a little smoother for the Cougars.

The bantams tied Glenwood Springs, 2-2, in the first game of the tournament.

"We still had turkey in our legs or we would have beat them," Hall said.

The Cougars then defeated Eagle Valley, 6-4.

"We have a real good hockey team," Hall said. "I truly believe we can play with a lot of B-level teams around here. We just have some attitude adjustments to make."

The midgets also made the trip to Vail the day after Thanksgiving. The Bulldogs started out slow that morning but warmed after a period of play.

"We don't play well when we have to get up early," coach Jay Oxley said. "That showed in the first game when we had to get up at 5 a.m. to play at 9 a.m."

The Bulldogs trailed Eagle/Vail in the opening batch, 5-0, before coming back to make it close, 6-4.

The next two games, the Bulldogs showed what they can do when they're awake. They defeated Highland Hills 1 of Denver, 5-1, and followed that up with an 3-1 win against Highland Hills 2.

"We moved the puck and attacked like we can in those games," Oxley said. "They looked like an efficient team."

The wins against the Highland Hills teams set up a rematch with Eagle/Vail. The second time around, the Bulldogs came out strong but couldn't finish.

The score was 0-0 at the end of the second period. Eagle/Vail took advantage of three breakaway goals in the third period for a 3-0 win.

"We ran out of gas," Oxley said. "We had 11 skaters, which makes for two shifts. We wore down in the end."

The tournament was the first official action for the Bulldogs. Oxley was pleased with the direction that his team can go.

"Right now the net is a little too small for us," he said, referring to scoring troubles. "We need to work on shooting and conditioning, and we'll have ourselves a good hockey team."

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