Craig Red Dogs go 1-3 in home tourney

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Results from the Craig Red Dogs men’s hockey team games in the 18th annual Yampa Valley Invitational men’s hockey tournament Friday through Sunday at Moffat County Ice Arena:

Game 1

• Craig — 2

• Rock Springs, Wyo. — 6

Game 2

• Craig — 3

• Laramie, Wyo. — 2

Game 3

• Craig — 3

• Denver I — 5

Game 4

• Craig — 2

• Casper, Wyo. II — 7

— The Red Dogs finished 1-3 in the home tournament.

Greg Neal said he wasn’t disappointed with the Craig Red Dogs men’s hockey team’s 1-3 record over the weekend.

Neal, manager and player for the Red Dogs, said the competition level at the 18th annual Yampa Valley Invitational men’s hockey tournament was some of the best and the Red Dogs battled in all four games Friday through Sunday at Moffat County Ice Arena.

“We matched up and had a gritty, respectable showing all weekend,” Neal said. “We surprised even ourselves with how we played some of these teams and going up against some of the better players in the state.”

The Red Dogs opened the tournament Friday against Rock Springs, falling 6-2.

The team bounced back Saturday morning with a 3-2 win over Laramie, Wyo., before falling 5-3 to Denver I and 7-2 to Casper, Wyo., II to close out the tournament.

Denver I won the tournament.

“The teams we played have continuity amongst the players and we maybe saw three guys over 30 (years old) on all the other teams,” Neal said. “We have six players over 30, so about half our team. Plus, these teams play 12 months out of the year and it shows with the blind passes they can make to each other.”

The Red Dogs have gotten younger this year, Neal said, and it shows through two of the younger players — goalie Spencer Wyman and center Colt Criswell.

“Spencer did fantastic as goalie for us and he just came ready to play and faced a lot of shots every game but kept us in every game,” he said. “Colt had the most goals, with three, and the most shots on goal and really stepped up for our offense.”

Lance Scranton, or the defensive anchor as Neal calls him, also stepped up for the home team.

“Lance was playing like he was 21 again,” Neal said. “He matched up well against some of the younger kids and he is just a big, strong guy for us on the defensive side of the puck.”

Against Laramie, Neal said the two teams were evenly matched, but the Red Dogs outplayed their opponent.

“I think we were dead even, but we were able to outshoot (Laramie) and beat them to the puck,” he said. “We finished our rebounds and it gave us second-chance shots.”

The Red Dogs play KBCR out of Steamboat Springs next on Jan. 22 in Craig.

Despite the tough competition in years past, Neal said he has no plans to lower the competition level in the Yampa Valley Invitational.

“We don’t want to drop the level of play because it pushes us to compete harder,” he said. “We play harder and everyone ups their level of play and it makes us a better team.”

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