Leaves falling off the trees, temperatures hovering around freezing and youth football ending can mean only one thing.
Hockey season has started.
Craig Youth Hockey Association welcomed back its skaters Monday with a hockey camp put on by Rocky Mountain Hockey Schools.
On Tuesday, the camp resumed with the squirts - players 10-years-old and younger - taking to the ice first.
Led by coaches Chip Dunleavy and Mark Moran, the players learned the basics at the Moffat County Ice Arena.
"We'll be working on all the fundamentals," Moran said. "Everything from skating, stick-handling and shooting."
As soon as the young players master the basic skills, they will move on to game situations.
"We'll do face-offs, offensive zone positioning and defensive zone positioning," Moran said.
Rocky Mountain Hockey Schools has been coming to Craig to teach the basics for more than seven years.
Mike Boatright is a coach with the squirts.
He said that besides being an affordable hockey camp, Rocky Mountain Hockey Schools does a good job of preparing the players for the season.
"For the squirts, especially those who have less experience, this helps break them in slowly," he said. "We'll be concentrating on the basics, like skating and passing. Eventually, we'll get to in-game situations."
The squirts season starts Nov. 7 in Vernal, Utah.
Tristan Farquharson, 9, said he can't wait to get on the road.
"I'm excited to play in Gunnison," he said. "I've never played there."
Tristan, who has played for four years, said he expects to improve this year.
"I want to be a better player," he said. "I need to skate faster, and help my team."
Alexander Barber, 9, has played for five seasons.
Last year, he was sharp on the ice, and this year, he wants to be even better.
"I think the camp has helped my puck-handling," he said. "I want to score at least three (goals) a game."
The Craig Youth Hockey Association is composed of house teams and competitive teams spread out among four age levels.
The squirts are the youngest team, with 10-year-old and younger players.
Pee-wee is the next level, with players younger than 12, followed by the bantam league, with players younger than 14, and the Moffat County High School team, with players 18 and younger.
The squirts, pee-wees and bantams are known as the Craig Cougars.
The high school team is the Bulldogs.
But regardless of the name, Boatright said he was happy to see the season start.
"We're very fortunate to have the support of the Moffat County Commissioners," he said, "and to have such a nice facility in a rural area."
Ben Bulkeley can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.