Red Dogs go out with a bang

Craig earns 2nd shutout to close home tourney

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Denver I wins second consecutive YVI title

The Yampa Valley Invitational men's hockey tournament concluded play Sunday at Moffat County Ice Arena and a familiar champion was crowned king of the event.

Denver I won its second consecutive YVI title, skating past Rock Springs, 13-7.

"We came here to defend our title," Denver coach Jesse Horan said. "We figured we'd be playing Rock Springs again, and we hope we play them again next year for the title."

Rock Springs and Denver (4-0-1) have played four times in the past five championship games. Denver has now won three.

Rock Springs goaltender Eric Schillie had been stingy his previous three tournament games - all shutout victories - but Denver came prepared.

"We knew we had to get a lot of shots on him," Horan said, "and we had to keep the puck on the ice."

Rock Springs (3-2) pulled within two late in the second period (7-5), but the scoring line of Jeremy Hughes, Shawn Rockey and Chad Crowell couldn't match Denver's offensive firepower.

Denver scored five times in the third period, pulling away for the six-goal victory and back-to-back YVI titles.

"We'll be back next year," Horan said, "looking for three in a row."

Yampa Valley Invitational hockey tournament results

Sept. 9, 10 and 11, Moffat County Ice Arena

Tournament round results:

Game 1

Craig 1 Steamboat 0

Game 2

Glenwood 7 Grand Junction 2

Game 3

Steamboat 7 Rock Springs 2

Game 4

Denver II 7 Grand Junction 3

Game 5

Casper 4 Eagle Valley 0

Game 6

Denver I 7 Grand Junction 3

Game 7

Laramie 3 Craig 2

Game 8

Rock Springs 6 Denver II 0

Game 9

Casper 1 Glenwood 0

Game 10

Denver I 7 Eagle Valley 1

Game 11

Laramie 4 Steamboat 4

Game 12

Rock Springs 5 Craig 0

Game 13

Casper 7 Grand Junction 4

Game 14

Steamboat 9 Denver II 2

Game 15

Denver I 1 Glenwood 1

Game 16

Rock Springs 3 Laramie 0

Game 17

Grand Junction 5 Eagle Valley 3

Game 18

Denver I 7 Casper 3

Game 19

Craig 5 Denver II 0

Game 20

Glenwood 4 Eagle Valley 0

Playoff round results:

Game 21

Fifth place game

Glenwood 3 Laramie 2

Game 22

Third place game

Steamboat 5 Casper 3

Game 23

Championship game

Denver I 13 Rock Springs 7

Craig Red Dogs individual game results:

Game 1 - Craig vs. Steamboat

Team 1 2 3 F

Steamboat (0-1-0) 0 0 0 0

Craig (1-0-0) 0 1 0 1

Individual scoring:

First Period - none.

Second Period - 1, C, Kistler 1 (Dubois) 2:15.

Third Period - none.

Shots on goal - Steamboat 38, Craig 24

Game 7 - Craig vs. Laramie

Team 1 2 3 F

Craig (1-1-0) 0 0 2 2

Laramie (1-0-1) 0 2 1 3

Individual scoring:

First Period - none

Second Period - 1, L, Carstens 3. 2, L, Gariffa 2.

Third Period - 3, C, Neton 1 (Doan). 4, L, Carstens 4. 5, C, Voorhees 1 (Abdella).

Shots on goal - Craig 24 , Laramie 26

Game 12 - Craig at Rock Springs

Team 1 2 3 F

Craig (1-2-0) 0 0 0 0

Rock Springs (2-1-0) 1 2 2 5

Individual scoring:

First Period - 1, RS, Hughes 1 (Rockey) 2:35

Second Period - 2, RS, Rockey 2 (Gilchrist) 5:15. 3, RS, Crowell 4 (Wells, Mullins) 12:45.

Third Period - 4, RS, Wells 2 (Crowell, Mullins) 7:12. 5, RS, Hughes 2 (Gilchrist) 13:10.

Shots on goal - Craig 15, Rock Springs 36

Game 19 - Craig vs. Denver II

Team 1 2 3 F

Denver II (0-3-1) 0 0 0 0

Craig (2-2-0) 0 3 2 5

Individual scoring:

First Period - none.

Second Period - 1 C, Oxley 1 (Criswell) 1:48. 2, C, Criswell 1 (unassisted) 7:33. 3, C, Abdella 1 (Neal)11:52.

Third Period - 4, C, Voorhees 2 (Neal) 2:31. 5, C, Neton 2 (Armstrong) 4:05.

Shots on goal - Denver II 26, Craig 25

Maybe it was because two players had just returned from watching an Colorado Avalanche game in Denver.

Maybe it was because one player was returning from a suspension.

Maybe the goalie was angry about letting in five goals just six hours earlier.

Or, maybe it was because they knew it was their last game on their home ice, in their home tournament, in front of the home crowd.

Whatever the reason, there, on Saturday, on the hard frozen surface of the Moffat County Ice Arena, was 45-year-old English teacher Lance Scranton diving headfirst into the boards, deflecting an opponent's shot.

There was 50-year-old Blake Abdella, doing the same moments later, sliding on the ice, deflecting a rebound off the post behind the opposing goalie's pad.

And there was 50-year-old Greg Neal, juking a defender, making him fall to the ground late in the third period of the Red Dogs' 5-0 Yampa Valley Invitational men's hockey tournament closing victory against Denver II.

"We knew it was going to be our last game," Neal said. "We were a little more relaxed, and we matched up better with this Denver II team."

And there couldn't have been a better opponent to close out a home tourney than a weary, road-traveled and winless Denver II (0-3-1) team.

From the onset of the contest, Craig was visibly faster than Denver II, to the point the visitor's bench was heard saying, "Man, those guys are fast. Jeez, they're like vultures."

It took Craig a period to find the back of the Denver II net, but not without a few golden opportunities.

Less than three minutes into the game, Jim Neton stole the puck and broke in to the Denver zone, all alone.

His backhand went wide, but the tone had been set.

Kevin Oxley put the Red Dogs (2-2) on the board in the second period, banging home a pass from Colt Criswell 1:48 into the frame.

Craig goalie Spencer Wayman stopped three separate two-on-one Denver breakaways within three minutes, keeping the lead intact

Criswell scored his first goal of the tourney, catching Denver's goalie out of position, and flipped a wrister into the open net from the top of the circle.

Abdella's on-ice acrobatics extended the lead to three with a minute left in the period, and the Red Dogs went into the break up a hat trick.

Randy Voorhees pushed the lead to four, banging home the rebound of Greg Neal's slap shot.

Mike Armstrong used his speed to break past the Denver defense and fed a wide-open Neton for his second goal of the tournament and the Red Dogs' final tally of the 15th annual, 10-team, weekend-long, YVI.

Wayman earned the team's second shutout of the event, stopping 26 Denver shots less than eight hours after giving up five to Rock Springs, Wyo.

"You can't think about that kind of stuff before a game," Wayman said. "I just wanted to go out there, finish strong, and get the win."

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