Craig Red Dogs benefit from roster, youth | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig Red Dogs benefit from roster, youth

Joshua Gordon

Results

Craig Red Dogs men’s hockey team remaining 2011-12 schedule:

(Date — location — opponent)

• Dec. 2 — away — Rock Springs, Wyo.

• Dec. 3 — away — Rock Springs, Wyo.

• Dec. 4 — home — KBCR

• Dec. 11 — home — Grundies

• Dec. 16 — away — Westside (Steamboat)

• Dec. 23 — away — Minglewood (Steamboat)

• Dec. 30 — away — Grundies (Steamboat)

• Jan. 3 — home — Minglewood

• Jan. 6 — home — 18th annual Yampa Valley Invite

• Jan. 7 — home — 18th annual Yampa Valley Invite

• Jan. 8 — home — Yampa Valley Invite

• Jan. 22 — home — Mad Dogs

• Jan. 29 — home — KBCR

• Feb. 12 — home — Westside

• Feb. 19 — home — Mad Dogs

• Feb. 24 — away — KBCR (Steamboat)

• March 2 — away — League playoffs

• March 9 — away — League playoffs

• March 11 — away — League playoffs

Results

Craig Red Dogs men’s hockey team remaining 2011-12 schedule:

(Date — location — opponent)

• Dec. 2 — away — Rock Springs, Wyo.

• Dec. 3 — away — Rock Springs, Wyo.

• Dec. 4 — home — KBCR

• Dec. 11 — home — Grundies

• Dec. 16 — away — Westside (Steamboat)

• Dec. 23 — away — Minglewood (Steamboat)

• Dec. 30 — away — Grundies (Steamboat)

• Jan. 3 — home — Minglewood

• Jan. 6 — home — 18th annual Yampa Valley Invite

• Jan. 7 — home — 18th annual Yampa Valley Invite

• Jan. 8 — home — Yampa Valley Invite

• Jan. 22 — home — Mad Dogs

• Jan. 29 — home — KBCR

• Feb. 12 — home — Westside

• Feb. 19 — home — Mad Dogs

• Feb. 24 — away — KBCR (Steamboat)

• March 2 — away — League playoffs

• March 9 — away — League playoffs

• March 11 — away — League playoffs

Greg Neal said the most important thing to consider when game planning for a hockey game is to play to your team’s strengths.

This season, Neal, manager of the Craig Red Dogs men’s hockey team, is working with something he isn’t used to — numbers.

The Red Dogs have 17 players on the squad this year, the most in 20 years, Neal said.

“We’ve had recent graduates come back and settle in Craig, and they want to play,” he said. “We have five new guys and 12 returning, so this is the best team we have had in a long time, and having numbers is definitely our biggest strength.”

The size of the team, Neal said, allows him to make three lines and enables quick shifts.

In the first game of the season Nov. 6 against the Grundies of Steamboat Springs, the Red Dogs kept fresh legs on the ice en route to a 5-4 victory on the opening night of the Steamboat Sunday Night League.

The Red Dogs are 1-1-2 entering December after starting 0-5-0 last year.

Another positive addition to the team is youth, Neal said.

Nick Bulla and Nathan Tomlin, who both played on the Moffat County Bulldogs club hockey team last year, are the youngest players on the team at 19.

“Our mean age dropped about 8 years,” Neal said. “Our young kids put a lot of pressure in the offense zone and it is great. We are one of the younger teams in the league and that gives us an advantage over the other, older teams.”

Because of the youth, Neal said the team’s offense is playing a more dump-and-chase style rather than pushing through the neutral zone like years past.

Neal said the team also benefits from veteran players like Blake Abdella, John Doane, Jim Neton and Lance Scranton.

“Everyone has respect for the older guys because they have been playing a long time,” he said. “They have a deep knowledge for the game and people listen when they speak so they can learn.”

The team is open to new players.

Practices take place at 5:15 p.m. Wednesdays and 6 p.m. Fridays and interested players can call Neal at 824-1045.

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