A.J. Barber looks for a pass Saturday at the Moffat County Ice Arena. Barber scored the game-winning goal in the Craig Cougar Bantams' 3-2 win against Steamboat on Saturday. They won, 3-2.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

A.J. Barber looks for a pass Saturday at the Moffat County Ice Arena. Barber scored the game-winning goal in the Craig Cougar Bantams' 3-2 win against Steamboat on Saturday. They won, 3-2.

Craig beats Steamboat in tight youth hockey game

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— Craig got two goals in the third period to steal a win away from Steamboat Springs in a thrilling youth hockey game.

The Craig Cougars Bantam team (for players age 14 and younger) squared off against Steamboat in the first game of the season at the Moffat County Ice Rink, coming away with a 3-2 win in a tight game.

The Cougars did not come out at their sharpest, playing a lackluster first period and falling behind 2-0. Steamboat dominated the period, getting an unassisted goal from Raleigh Darcy with 9:12 left, and then a power-play goal from Jonathon Kaminski three minutes later.

“It was pretty rough" in the first period, coach Terry Barber said. “We just weren’t skating well, weren’t playing as a team.”

While it was a penalty on Craig that eventually gave Steamboat its second goal, it was another penalty that Barber said he felt woke the Cougars up. After getting just one shot off in the first period, Craig picked up its play and got on the board.

Dakota Kenyon found the net in a 4 vs. 4 situation with 9:58 to play in the second to bring Craig within two. From there, the Cougars no longer looked sluggish.

“Our conditioning during practice helped,” Riley Allen said about the Cougars’ step up in play. “Other than that, I think we just got used to the game and played better.”

Craig was more aggressive but unable to find a tying goal for most of the rest of the game. Then, in less than 40 seconds of clock time, the Cougars took the lead late.

With 3:23 left, A.J. Barber carried the puck into the offensive zone and found Wyatt Boatright with a pass across the goal, and Boatright’s one-timer found the back of the net.

The next time Craig got the puck, it was Boatright who made a nice pass to Barber, and Barber’s backhand flick gave the Cougars the lead with 2:44 to play.

“That was very good passing,” Terry Barber said about the goals. “They’ve been playing together for about five years now, so they have some good chemistry.”

After taking the lead, Craig was called for one last penalty and had to play out the final 1:50 down a man. The Cougars stepped up and killed the penalty to secure the win.

“My guys stepped up,” Barber said. “They told us they would handle it, and we didn’t have to coach them too much out there.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com.

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