Conner Pogline takes the puck up the ice for the Craig Red Dogs during their game against Casper on Saturday at the Moffat County Ice Arena.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Conner Pogline takes the puck up the ice for the Craig Red Dogs during their game against Casper on Saturday at the Moffat County Ice Arena.

Craig Red Dogs come up short in Saturday games

— After an ideal start, the Craig Red Dogs came up short against their toughest competition and were eliminated from their home tournament.

The Red Dogs men’s hockey team was host to the 20th annual Yampa Valley Invitational Tournament this weekend, with nine other teams vying for the crown from Friday through Sunday. After winning its first game of the tournament Friday night, 7-3, against Vernal, the Craig team went 1-2 on Saturday and will not play for the championship or for third place.

Saturday started off well for the Red Dogs, who won, 3-2, against Eagle in the morning. But the most difficult games were to come later in the day, against Casper II and Denver I.

In their game against Casper, Wyo., on Saturday afternoon, the Red Dogs were hanging tough and trailed just 3-2 entering the third period. But a goal early in the period followed by another with eight minutes left made it 5-2 and took the wind out of Craig’s sails. They would go on to lose, 8-2.

Craig’s final game of the tournament came against Denver in a must-win situation. The Red Dogs played tough but couldn’t create the quality offensive chances to score. Mike Armstrong gave the team its lone goal of the game late in the third period before Denver tacked on two quick ones for the final score of 5-1.

With the top two teams advancing from each group for the third-place and championship games, the second loss knocked Craig out of playing Sunday. But the team’s players still were pleased afterward.

“This has been a great tournament for us, I think,” team captain Greg Neal said. “Going 2-2 is nothing to be ashamed of.”

Especially in the game against Denver, Neal thought the team came out and represented itself well versus a talented opponent.

“I think we kind of surprised ourselves in that game,” he said. “We came out and skated well with them. We just couldn’t get the goals we needed.”

Saturday featured 14 games from early in the morning until past midnight, but it was part of another successful weekend of hockey at the Yampa Valley Invitational.

Both teams from Casper attending the tournament, along with Denver I and Grand Junction, will play Sunday.

Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com.

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