Craig’s Midget, Squirt hockey teams take weekend wins
CRAIG — Even under the most dire circumstances, Craig Youth Hockey Association teams refuse to give up late in the season.
CYHA’s 18 and under Midget squad was faced with a tough call Saturday during the first of its home games against Arvada.
The Bulldogs held a 3-2 lead in the second period, when a collision in the crease took out goaltender Jack Doane, who suffered a serious blow to the head and possible concussion.
Without a backup goalie or even additional keeper equipment and facing minimal time to get the game back in action, Moffat County coaches opted to have skaters rotate in an extra defensive position to protect the net.
It was a strategy that took time for players to adapt to, as Arvada seized on the opportunity to take the lead 6-3 by the end of the period.
The third period, however, must have been best described as “the best defense is a good offense,” as the Bulldogs showed a newfound aggression getting after the puck. Logan Knez scored a power play goal, Wyatt Boatright added three to the total four he had for the night and Zach Soron put one in, as well.
Though Arvada’s Zachary Hopper’s seven goals gave Moffat County the loss at 9-8, coaches noted the group’s capability of coming back and winning it.
“If we’d kept it out of the box, we could have won it,” said coach Tim Knez.
AJ Barber also scored twice before Doane was taken out of the game.
“I was a little nervous to play with a man down, but I knew if we stepped it up, we could pull it out. We just didn’t quite make it happen,” Barber said. “We really wanted that one.”
Too many penalties also hurt their chances, he added.
Doane was unable to play Sunday, as well, but coaches put Colton Lodato in the net for a followup game with Arvada, which the Bulldogs narrowly lost 3-2 — despite outshooting their opponents 30-6 — their goals coming from Boatright and Jesse Earle.
But, the Dogs finished the weekend at home strong with a second Sunday game, this time against Fraser — rescheduled from earlier in the month — resulting in a 3-2 victory. Barber took a hat trick, while Lodato had 25 saves.
The Midget group — overall record 6-15-1 — will rematch Fraser for its final game in Colorado Recreational Hockey League play, an event that has not yet been scheduled.
Moffat County Ice Arena was busy with multiple 10U Squirt squads Saturday and Sunday, as two teams from Rock Springs, Wyoming, visited for games with Craig, Steamboat Springs and Oak Creek.
Cougars took a 4-4 tie and a 5-4 win against separate Miners teams.
Jaryd Preston led in goals with four, including a hat trick in the win, with Grant Sis and Hayden Urroz each scoring twice and Patrick Neton once.
In goal, Quinn Allen had 12 saves and Wyatt Schell 11.
“Great hustle by the whole team all weekend,” coach Jim Neton said of the games, which won’t count for Continental Divide Youth Hockey League, but proved useful for staying in shape.
Cougars are 11-5-1 overall and 8-2 in CDYHL. They’ll host Glenwood Springs for their final conference games Feb. 24 before a league tournament in March.
Players have enjoyed the experience this season as they continue to grow in the sport.
Though Eli Francone only recently began playing hockey, he said he likes the toughness involved in the game and the coaching staff.
“I’d have to say they’re pretty great,” he said of his coaches.
A blend of Northwest Colorado imagery and splashy colors now greets Craig drivers and pedestrians.