Moffat County hockey ready to stick it to opponents | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County hockey ready to stick it to opponents

The players and coaches of the Moffat County Bulldogs club hockey team gather at center ice. This season’s coaches include Todd Bellio, Mike Boatright and Corey Worster. Filling out the roster are Wyatt Bellio, Dom Bell, Sam Walls, AJ Barber, Brayden Tuttle, Colby Beckett, Dakota Kenyon, Zach Soron, Tristan Farquharson, Ben Stoddard, Jesse Earle, Brodey Gutierrez, Riley Allen, Kaitlyn Shrode, Corbin Coutts, Jadon Coutts, Josh Worster and Wyatt Boatright.
Andy Bockelman

The season may be starting later than they wanted, but the members of the Moffat County BulldogsMoffat County Bulldogs club hockey team will hardly be going into competition cold. club hockey team will hardly be going into competition cold.

Moffat County Bulldogs club hockey team will hardly be going into competition cold.

Practicing since October, the players for the 18 and under team are as sharp as their skates when it comes to their skills, ready for games starting in January.

Todd Bellio takes on the duties of head coach after Randy Armstrong had to step aside due to family concerns. Todd has served in different functions for the Midget team for years.

"This ain't my first rodeo," he laughed. "It seems like every other year I get to be head coach."

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The squad — which also includes coaches Mike Boatright and Corey Worster — functions at the Midget level of the Craig Youth Hockey AssociationCraig Youth Hockey Association, though the Bulldogs are going into their second year with the Winter tier of the Colorado Prep Hockey League, a consortium of teams that has expanded since last year with more Front Range involvement., though the Bulldogs are going into their second year with the Winter tier of the Colorado Prep Hockey League, a consortium of teams that has expanded since last year with more Front Range involvement.

Craig Youth Hockey Association, though the Bulldogs are going into their second year with the Winter tier of the Colorado Prep Hockey League, a consortium of teams that has expanded since last year with more Front Range involvement.

Familiar Western Slope teams like Glenwood Springs, Telluride and West Elk — Gunnison — are joined by Denver area programs like Centaurus, Columbine and Centennial's Ranch Hockey Club.

A series of matches with Hyland Hills — part of the Denver North Hockey League — will give the Dogs more game time.

"Some of those Front Range teams don't want to travel up here, and they have crazy ice times, so we're trying to get them here since we have a more flexible ice schedule for that," Todd said.

The team — which doesn't operate through CHSAA — sent off several Moffat County High SchoolMoffat County High School seniors at the end of last season, and the eldest player remaining is Brodey Gutierrez, who serves as a captain. seniors at the end of last season, and the eldest player remaining is Brodey Gutierrez, who serves as a captain.

Moffat County High School seniors at the end of last season, and the eldest player remaining is Brodey Gutierrez, who serves as a captain.

"Some of the players aren't used to working with everyone, so they're kind of clashing, but we're getting into the swing of things," he said. "We'll be more of a group when it comes to our first game."

Gutierrez spent most of last winter recovering from knee surgery, which also prevented him from attending a seminar in Switzerlanda seminar in Switzerland, but he’s ready to finally be back on the ice., but he's ready to finally be back on the ice.

a seminar in Switzerland, but he's ready to finally be back on the ice.

"It's feeling good, I'm starting to get my legs back under me," he said.

Much of the roster is young talent, some moving up from the CYHA Bantam team, some returning to hockey after a hiatus and others new to hockey entirely.

"We constantly work on skating skills, stick-handling skills and passing, it's all tied together," Todd said. "I like to do a lot of passing to a moving target stuff, so they have to anticipate and get their geometry in there for skaters that moving. Positioning is huge."

MCHS junior Riley Allen is one who has played regularly year in year out between running cross country in the fall and track in the spring.

"It's a different motion and different muscles that you use, but endurance helps for sure," he noted of skating compared to running. "I think the most difficult thing is getting some players used to our speed."

The coaches have seen a lot of enthusiasm among players, whatever their experience level, and with benefits like a second goalie — Wyatt Bellio and Josh Worster both have spent some time in the crease — the next couple months look promising for a group of kids willing to work, though local scrimmages among younger and older age groups may or may not pay off come game time.

"It's tough to gauge where we're at, because by now we're so used to ourselves," Todd said. "The kids are getting to be stronger skaters, getting in shape, so I think it'll be good."

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.

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