Bulldogs club hockey team wins season finale, eyes Frozen Four

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Box score from the Moffat County Bulldogs club hockey team’s game against Steamboat:

(Team — 1st — 2nd — 3rd — final)

Moffat County — 4 — 3 — 0 — 7

Steamboat — 0 — 1 — 1 — 2

Leading Bulldog scorers:

(Name — goals — assists — total)

•Wyatt Villa — 1 — 1 — 2

•Nick Bulla — 1 — 1 — 2

•Bubba Ivers — 1 — 1 — 2

Goalie statistics:

(Name — saves — goals)

•Trent Parrott — 13 — 2

After scoring the opening goal of the Moffat County Bulldogs club hockey team’s game against Steamboat Springs on Feb. 17, Wyatt Villa hopped around the rink in celebration.

Head coach Mark Samuelson said the team found it so funny, they gave him a nickname.

“We called him the Easter Bunny,” Samuelson said.

The first period goal set the tone for the rest of the contest as the Bulldogs came out on top, 7-2, in the team’s regular season finale at the Moffat County Ice Arena.

“The team played outstanding,” Samuelson said. “They moved the puck well, made and caught passes and finished really well.”

The Bulldogs scored four goals in the first period and three in the second.

Ten players contributed to Bulldogs scoring, whether through goals or assists.

“I can’t say any one person stood out,” Samuelson said. “We had so many contributors on the scoreboard and off because play with the puck is as important as play away from the puck.”

The Bulldogs swept Steamboat in the regular season, going 3-0 against their Rocky Mountain Youth Hockey League rivals.

Samuelson said his team has more depth than Steamboat, allowing the Bulldogs to stay on the attack longer.

“We out shot (Steamboat) 46-15,” he said. “We are a much deeper team, and everyone really played to their potential.

“This is where we should be at this point in the season.”

Before the game, the team and parents celebrated senior players — Jarred Blevins, Nick Bulla, Nathan Tomlin, Steve Wagner and CJ Walt.

Samuelson said it was a strong night for his seniors.

“We had a great team effort and seniors like Nick Bulla really played hard,” he said. “(Nick) always says he contributes by being more physical, but he got a goal to start the second period.”

The Bulldogs sights are now set on the RMYHL Frozen Four on March 5 and 6 in Gunnison.

Crested Butte, Gunnison and either Kremmling or Durango will make up the final four teams.

Samuelson said his team would probably face off against Gunnison in the opening round of the double elimination tournament.

“We are excited to play Gunnison in the first round,” he said. “The way things have went down in our last couple of games against them, it should be fun.”

In the team’s previous double-header on Feb. 5 and 6, Gunnison won both games, 8-2 and 9-1.

During those two games, the teams and fans in attendance were subject to carbon monoxide poisoning from the rink’s Zamboni machine.

All Bulldogs players and coaches in attendance were treated and released from the hospital.

Samuelson said he has no worries about returning to Gunnison.

“It was a fluke and an accident that every hockey rink in the state will now pay attention to,” he said. “I don’t think it will ever happen again at a RMYHL rink.”

As his team prepares for the Frozen Four, Samuelson said his team’s improvement over the season will show.

“Now that we are more comfortable with the basic game, we can get more elaborate,” he said. “We will work on set plays, power plays and face offs.”

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