Craig Peewee hockey earns championship at ‘Tis the Season home tourney
With speed, strength and plenty of scoring, the teamwork of Peewee players in Craig Youth Hockey Association helped athletes provide each other with a big early Christmas gift.
The 12 and under Craig Cougars finished their three-day ‘Tis the Season Tournament with an undefeated run, winning all five games against visiting teams across Friday through Sunday to claim a championship.
Cougars first made their mark with their first win of the season Friday afternoon in a 6-0 shutout against the Ashley Valley Raptors of Vernal, Utah.
The streak continued Saturday with back-to-back victories against Rock Springs, Wyoming as Craig kids earned a 5-0 W over the Miners’ Red team and a narrower 6-5 win against the Black team.
Sunday morning saw players claim a 3-2 win against the Northern Colorado Junior Eagles to secure a spot against Rock Springs Black in the finals, which they won 7-2.
The ‘Tis the Season event also featured plentiful games for CYHA’s 10U Squirts, who went 1-3 for the weekend.
Squirts took a 5-3 win against Nederland — their first of the year — and apart from an 8-5 defeat to Vernal, subsequent losses were tight in terms of score, 4-3 against Foothills and 5-4 with Northern Colorado.
With one shutout apiece for Cougar Peewee goalies Quinn Allen and Wyatt Schell, the home net was well-defended, earning 37 and 10 saves, respectively, across the weekend.
However, Allen’s biggest moment came in the final minutes of Craig’s Saturday afternoon game with Rock Springs Black, a nimble glove save by the young keeper ensuring a long sniper shot didn’t cross the crease.
And, as strong as defense was, Cougar scoring was especially on point.
Patrick Neton led the 12U group in total goals, including a hat trick in the final round. Boston Armstrong, Hayden Urroz and Eric Warrior each netted four during the five games, while Jaryd Preston put in three, and Tristan Smith and Kolby Smith each scored once.
Grant Sis led in assists with four of the 15 the Cougars accumulated in unselfish play.
“We’ve had lots of good passing,” Tristan Smith said.
Coaches Mike Armstrong and Adam Smith — who oversee both Peewees and Squirts — were more than pleased with the outcome of the tourney, a big turnaround from the Peewees’ opening series a week before, taking a 4-4 draw and a 9-5 loss Dec. 7 at home against Durango.
“Very proud of all our kids,” Armstrong said. “They were hustling and playing position very well. It was nice to see them come together as a team this weekend.”
No hurt for Squirts
While the 10U Cougar team didn’t make it to the championship round, their weekend wasn’t without some high statistics.
With Boston Armstrong playing for both Squirts and Peewees, the young skater led the younger group in scoring, adding 15 goals solely in Squirt games. Fellow dual player Kolby Smith also gained one goal, as did Halei Coffey, who also notched one assist as did Benjamin Henion.
Coffey, Lily Henion and Ellie Schell are among the female players in what’s otherwise a 10U roster full of boys.
“It’s kind of weird, but I’m glad there’s more girls,” Coffey said.
Teammate Eli Francone summed up the rest of the season’s objectives simply.
“Winning and getting goals,” Francone said with a smile.
While the younger teams are just getting their season in gear, the CYHA 18U Midget group recently wrapped the fall portion of its schedule.
The Moffat County Bulldogs finished early games Dec. 7 and 8 with back-to-back road wins of 5-2 over Littleton and 5-1 against Arapahoe Warriors’ White team.
Besides 44 saves in goal between the two games, scoring saw Brant Gutierrez and Garett Stockman with two goals each in the first, as well as one by Alex Colby.
The second saw two put in the net by Colby, plus one each by Stockman, Clay Durham and Garrett Anson.
While the Midgets’ winter schedule is still being determined, Peewees and Squirts will travel to Durango Jan. 11 for rematches against the Steamers.
CYHA will also host its annual New Year’s Eve party, complete with food, drinks, skating and more from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 31 at Moffat County Ice Arena.
For more information on admission, call 970-629-2380.