The 16th annual Yampa Valley Invitational men’s hockey tournament will begin play Friday, and continue through the weekend at the Moffat County Ice Arena.
Twelve teams from Colorado and Wyoming will make the trip for the Craig Red Dogs lone home tournament of the year.
The Red Dogs have never won the tournament; a third-place finish in 2005 is the team’s best showing to date.
But, Greg Neal, Red Dogs general manager and right wing, said Craig has a chance to stand its ground on its home ice this weekend.
“This is the best team we’ve ever had,” he said. “We have an excellent chance to make the playoffs on Sunday.”
This year, the Red Dogs will not only have to face-off against the returning champions from Denver, but will also need to wade through the largest pool of competitors ever assembled for the tournament.
Other top competitors include both teams from Steamboat Springs, and squads from Rock Springs and Casper, Wyo.
Each team will play four games, and the top four teams will advance to a Sunday playoff.
The tournament will start at 4:30 p.m. Friday when the Steamboat Coyotes face the Steamboat Bruins.
At 5:45 p.m. Friday, the Red Dogs will play their first game against Glenwood Springs.
The Saturday slate of games begin at 6:30 a.m., when Rock Springs, plays Grand Junction.
At 7:45 a.m., Casper will play Craig.
The Red Dogs will play again at 5:45 p.m. against Eagle and 10:45 p.m. against Denver I.
Saturday games end at midnight when Casper plays Grand Junction.
The playoffs begin at 8:15 a.m. Sunday, with the consolation game between the third- and fourth-place teams.
The championship game will begin at 9:30 a.m.
Ben Bulkeley can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.