Taking on a top-notch foe Thursday in Craig, the Cougar Squirt (10 and younger) hockey team fell behind Steamboat early but played a strong second half of the game for a 9-0 loss.
The Cougars hosted Steamboat at Moffat County Ice Arena and fell behind quickly.
Playing in a division higher than where they belong, the Cougars struggled in the first period, falling behind, 7-0, by the end of the first 12 minutes.
“I had to snap the whip a little bit after the first period cause we were a little flat,” coach Greg Neal said. “Then they stepped it up in the second and the third. We had no sweaty heads after the first period, and we did after the second and again after the third. That was the difference.”
While the Steamboat offense eased off a bit, Craig eliminated much more of their opponents’ attacking plays and created more chances of its own, actually putting more shots on goal in the second and third periods.
The loss dropped the youth team to 0-16 this season. The Cougars are in their second season with the Continental Divide Youth Hockey League and due to league rules were placed in the higher Squirt division this year, which has resulted in plenty of difficult losses.
But all season, the Cougars have kept skating hard and come to each game excited to play.
“The C league is where we actually belong,” Neal said. “But we’re forced to move up and we’ve made the best of it. B League has been good for them; it makes them work harder.”
Neal also has noticed lots of improvement from his team this season, which has four games remaining. Their focus on skating and basic strategy has not resulted in wins this year, but the coach is confident these wins will come.
“This group’s come a long way,” he said. “They’ve worked really hard, and their day is coming, like I keep telling them. It’s not going to be this year, but it’s going to be real soon.”
Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.