Craig The Moffat County Bulldog hockey club, a senior-laden team, is off to a torrid start in the Rocky Mountain Youth Hockey League.
Telluride Hockey Club is a storied program amid a rebuilding year after losing many players from a third-place finish in league play a year ago.
Sophomore Jarrod Stillion made sure the Bulldogs took advantage of an undermanned Telluride team Saturday, scoring four goals as Moffat County (4-0) swept the Lizard Heads (1-5) to remain in sole possession of first place in the league.
The Bulldogs goalie tandem of Bryce Ponikvar and Spencer Wayman combined to shut out visiting Telluride, 5-0 and 9-0, in the doubleheader.
Telluride only dressed nine players for the contest, as school testing and Mother Nature shortened the visitor's bench.
Telluride "played really hard considering how many guys they had," Moffat County coach Jim Hall said. "I want to compliment them for making the trip. They are a class-act program."
The Bulldog players weren't paying any compliments on the ice. The Moffat County defense was particularly stingy Saturday, allowing 15 shots in the first game and eight in the second.
Senior Ponikvar stopped all 15 Telluride shots in the early matchup, earning his second shutout of the short season.
"It's harder to get the shutout when you only face a small amount of shots," Ponikvar said. "I have to skate around and whistle to myself to stay busy."
Regardless of what tactics he uses, Ponikvar must have passed along his technique to the junior Wayman, who pushed aside all eight shots he faced in game two, to earn his first shutout victory of the year.
"Our goalies came up big when they had to," assistant coach Gene Carson said. "We have the right kids on this team. They are really starting to work well together."
In game one, Colt Criswell put the Bulldogs on the board early, quickly depositing a wrist shot past the Telluride goaltender for a 1-0 lead. Moffat County controlled the pace of play, resulting in consecutive goals by Stillion, followed by scores from Jacob Barron and Scott Smith for the final margin of victory.
Game 2 was tighter throughout the first two periods as Moffat County led, 3-0, behind goals from Smith, Stillion and Cole Dubois.
Early in the third period, sophomore Nathan Tomlin was ejected for fighting.
The skirmish seemed to recharge the Bulldogs, as Moffat County scored six goals in the final seven minutes of play, blowing the contest open.
Criswell, Stillion, Nick Bulla, Ty DeGuelle and Joel Pomeroy (twice), all participated in the late scoring barrage.
When questioned about his scoring on this particular Saturday, Stillion was uncertain.
"I have no clue," he said. "I've been hyper all day. I guess I got pretty pumped up to play today."
The season is young, but captain Smith is proud of the way his team is playing and he sees good things on the horizon.
"We are beginning to show a lot of chemistry out there in the ice," he said. "I hope we can keep it up. I have a good feeling about this team."
John Vandelinder can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org