The Craig Cougar Pee Wee hockey team has lost heartbreaker after heartbreaker in the past three weeks. This weekend the team hopes to change that.
"We've been playing a lot better the last three weeks," coach Mark Bangs said. "We just can't get that goal at the end of the game to win it."
The Cougar Pee Wees (ages 11 and 12) and the Bantams (13 and 14) host the Northern Division playoffs for the Rocky Mountain Youth Hockey League on Friday and Saturday in Craig.
The Pee Wees have a young roster with only four returning players from last year's team. That youth has resulted in a 2-14 league record, but Bangs said the team's play as of late could bring success.
On Saturday, the Cougars face Kremmling and Eagle, the other two teams in the Northern Division. Kremmling is the team the Cougars have two wins against.
"We've gone back-and-forth with Kremmling a lot," Bangs said. "They are in a similar situation to us because they are young, and they have a small lineup."
All three Pee Wee teams will advance to play in the RMYHL tournament the next weekend in Eagle. Matches this weekend are merely to determine the seeding. There are four teams in the Southern Division and only three of those teams will advance this weekend to the league tournament.
"Eagle is one of the strongest teams in the league," Bangs said. "We've skated with them, but we haven't found the net often enough."
The Pee Wees play at 4:30 and 6 p.m. There will be two raffles during the weekend for prizes as well as a 50-50 drawing to benefit the Cougars.
Bantams the favorites
The Bantam team hasn't lost this season to its two Northern Division opponents, Oak Creek and Kremmling, but coach Jim Hall doesn't want his boys to take the games lightly.
"We played both those teams last week, and they're quickly improving," Hall said. "Kremmling played us to a close 3-1 game so we have to be ready."
The Bantams had a slow February, but their ice time increases in March.
All three teams from the Northern Division will advance to the RMYHL championships next weekend.
"We've split with the three Southern teams so it's anybody's tournament," Hall said. "When this team plays together and gets along, we can win."
The Bantams play their games at 7 and 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Loudy-Simpson Ice Arena. Hall wasn't sure which team they played first.
"It doesn't matter because we need to win both," he said. "We'll skate with whoever ends up on the ice."