Despite winning each of the four league games they have played, the Moffat County Bulldogs club hockey team can still improve.
“We can still be better,” coach Jerry Strahan said. “We’re getting better.”
The team has become a solid defensive unit, as its first two league opponents, Durango and Crested Butte, have found out.
“I think we’ve all learned a lot so far,” Strahan said. “I’ve learned, and the team has learned, that this is a very capable group of guys. This is a team that enjoys playing the game.”
The team will look to keep improving Sunday, when it travels to Grand Junction to face the Grand Valley Mavericks.
Playing against the Mavericks is a Bulldog team featuring several freshmen mixed in with a few upperclassmen. However, they all have one thing in common, their coach said.
“They just love to play hockey,” Strahan said. “We’ve found positions that work for everyone, and we’re still looking at a few different guys for different positions.”
Strahan said several players could switch roles as the season goes forward.
“Brentton Ivers is a guy who is too good not to be a defenseman,” Strahan said. “I know he likes playing forward, but we’re a better team with him at defense.”
Behind goalies Curt Ellgen and Spencer Wayman, the Bulldogs have yet to allow more than a goal to any league opponent.
“We have two goalies in Curt and Spencer who I honestly believe are the best in the league,” Strahan said. “This is Curt’s senior year, and he has really played well.”
But the team’s best attribute has come from a different place, Strahan said.
“I think the fact that everyone has come together as a team is our biggest strength,” he said. “Even our best guys have come out to help the younger kids on the team and make them better. No one on this team forces anything — if a shot isn’t there, they will pass it.”
Even with a team-first mentality, Strahan said he would like to see the Bulldogs shoot the puck more.
In the second game of a Dec. 20 doubleheader against Crested Butte, Moffat County was outshot, 28-26.
Playing against a team like Grand Valley, the Bulldogs will need to be in attack mode when they have the puck.
“It will certainly be a higher level,” Strahan said. “We probably won’t change the system too much. We’ve definitely refined it, and we’ll need to execute better.”