Craig’s Red Dogs hockey team chases time on the ice, beats Steamboat squad
Craig Red Dogs 10,
Steamboat American Towing 1
Al German and Mike Armstrong scored four goals apiece, and Colt Criswell scored twice, to lead the Red Dogs on Sunday at the Moffat County Ice Arena.
Craig — What do you get when you combine two construction workers, a chiropractor, a financial advisor, a hospital nurse, two English teachers, a librarian, a coal miner, two high school students and a hockey puck?
The Red Dogs hockey team.
This diverse group of men – many of whom travel from out of town – meet a couple of times a week in an effort to take a break from their everyday work routines.
This group of “misfit hockey players,” aptly named by on-ice coach Al German, put its will to chase a black rubber disc to the forefront for a few hours Sunday, blowing past the Steamboat Springs American Towing team, 10-1, at the Moffat County Ice Arena.
“We all have a really fun time out on the ice,” librarian and defenseman James Neton said. “We have fathers and sons out here, guys from 18 to 51 years old.”
The players don’t wear pads in this non-checking league. Their jerseys don’t match, they take their lumps “as all hockey players do” German said, and, like most athletes, they try to win.
“It helps us keep our competitive nature,” German said. “We play to have fun, but of course, we want to win. Winning is everything.”
The Red Dogs (3-5) began the season slow, Neton said, but they are starting to “get our hockey legs underneath us.”
Neton and Lance Scranton, two hockey players who also coach high school football, make up the defensive line of the team.
“It’s kind of funny when we play together,” Neton said. “All you hear is ‘coach, give me the puck, coach, pass it.'”
The team plays in the Sunday Night “A” league – not a very catchy name, but it’s the players who catch the good times on the ice.
The Red Dogs play a 15-game schedule, with all six league teams making the playoffs.
Craig lost in the semifinal round of the playoffs last year, after making the finals in the 3-year-old league’s first two seasons.
The stands of the arena rarely are filled. There’s nobody keeping track of penalties and goals scored – except for the players themselves – and most of the time, they only suit up seven or eight guys for a game. The only fanfare the players receive is a pat on the back from one another in the locker room afterward.
A player runs the league – Greg Neal, team captain by night and financial advisor by day – who also does the scheduling and handles the team’s money because, as Neton says, “We trust that he can add and subtract.”
They don’t have a team bus, a roster or even a set time to practice.
But, you won’t find any of these hockey players complaining about ice time, the small amount of time away from work, which is what they cherish.
“It gives us a chance to calm down when we go home to our wives,” Neton said, “when they let us play.”
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