CJ Walt hat trick keeps Moffat County Club Hockey team undefeated
CJ Walt wasn’t ready to admit defeat Friday night.
With his team down, 3-1, at the end of the first period, the Moffat County Bulldogs club hockey team captain hit the ice with a vengeance.
And, though the team was unable to come out on top, Walt was still satisfied with the results.
“A tie is always better than a loss,” he said.
The Bulldogs fought to a standstill against the Kremmling Cattle Kings on Friday night at the Moffat County Ice Arena, tying 4-4.
Coach Mark Samuelson said the results were drastically different compared to the team’s Dec. 15 game in Steamboat Springs. The Bulldogs won their first away game, 5-0, gaining the second shutout of the season.
“In Steamboat, we played great, everybody came out strong,” Samuelson said. “For defense and offense, it was our best game yet, it was our most dominating. Against Kremmling, we just didn’t have that energy.”
Samuelson said he thought having the game on the first night of Christmas break didn’t help his players’ focus.
“They just didn’t have their heads in the game,” he said. “They came out flat.”
The first period was the roughest on the team, with the Cattle Kings putting in three goals. Bulldog Nathan Tomlin was able to score a short-handed goal with less than 30 seconds remaining in the period.
Walt said Kremmling retained almost its entire roster from last season, making up a team that was experienced in playing together.
“There was only one guy out there I didn’t recognize,” he said.
About three minutes into the second period, Walt put the score at 3-2 with assists from teammates Tomlin and Steve Wagner. But, he said he wasn’t going to stop there, nor was he going to let his team get down on themselves.
“I took it as my responsibility to help get the rest of them fired up,” he said.
Walt scored twice more in the second period, achieving his first hat trick of the season. He said he couldn’t have done it without the support of all the other Bulldogs on the ice.
“I just happened to get put in a few good scoring positions by the rest of the team,” he said. “It just felt good to be able to put the puck into the net that many times.”
A fourth Kremmling score between Walt’s second and third goals kept the Bulldogs from celebrating too early. Neither team scored in the third period, with both squads unwilling to yield.
“We almost got a fifth goal toward the end, but it just didn’t happen,” Samuelson said.
The tie puts the team’s record at 3-0-1.
Walt said the game was an “eye-opener.”
“It was definitely our first big challenge,” he said.
The Bulldogs will play the Cattle Kings again Jan. 2.
Walt said he and the rest of the team intend to claim a win.
“I think we know what to expect for next time,” he said. “We really need to capitalize on scoring opportunities.”
One of the team’s weaknesses during the game was not getting off enough shots on goal. Moffat County had only 16 shots compared to Kremmling’s 24.
With the holidays, the Bulldogs will have less practice sessions than usual, but Samuelson said he is confident the team will stay sharp.
Still, he wants to work on building his players’ consistency in upcoming games.
“We’ve got to work on playing hard in the first and second periods,” he said. “We also need to work on protecting the defensive end of the ice.”