Keeping cool: Craig Youth Hockey emphasizes skating fundamentals for potential players |

Keeping cool: Craig Youth Hockey emphasizes skating fundamentals for potential players

Craig Youth Hockey Association's Dana Armstrong provides instruction during Try Hockey for Free Day Saturday at Moffat County Ice Arena.
Andy Bockelman

The first time on the ice can be utterly terrifying, but if Craig Youth Hockey Association organizers have anything to say about it, developing the skill of skating can lead to a lifelong skill and passion.

CYHA hosted Try Hockey for Free Day Saturday at Moffat County Ice Arena, an event complete with a barbecue and sporting gear swap shop to prepare families for the season to come.

Coaches hit the slick surface to provide a crash course in hockey and skating, both of which were total firsts for some kids. Coach Tim Knez said novice skaters were able to adapt quicker with a little extra equipment.

“They use that hockey stick to help them stay up,” he chuckled.

He added that unlike running sports, skating is a specialized activity but one that’s easier to develop younger in life.

“It’s about getting them to stay on their feet and get introduced to the game, and these young kids pick it up so fast, it’s much easier to teach them than an adult,” he said.

Additional classes for for prospective players are available later this month, including Intro to Skating Oct. 22 to 25 and Intro to Hockey Oct. 29 to Nov. 8.

“Kids are really resilient, even though hockey’s a different kind of sport. Instead of being on your feet, you’re up on a thin little blade and under your feet is a whole different feeling,” said instructor Dana Armstrong. “You get them padded up, it gives them confidence because if they fall, it doesn’t hurt. You’ve got to teach them the right way to get up, too, so they’re not just flopping around like a fish. You fall and then pop back up. It takes kids who have never been on the ice about five times doing that, and then they’re skating.”

Practices for the 10 and under, 12U, 14U and 18U ages are underway, with sessions for the 8U program coming in November, as well as a house league for 10U and 8U. New players are welcome at all levels, 14U team is especially seeking out more players after merging with Steamboat Springs and Grand Junction programs the past two seasons due to low numbers. Age is determined by birth year: the 8U Mites team is open to players born in 2010 or later; 10U Squirts 2008 and 2009; 12U Peewees 2006 and 2007; 14U Bantams 2004 and 2005; and 18U Midgets 2000 to 2003.

Knez added that CYHA might combine the Bantam and Midget levels if numbers don’t grow.

“We’ve just got to encourage more kids to come out,” he said, adding the Midgets will start play in early November.

Registration is available online at the group’s new website,

For more information on prices and how to register for teams and classes with CYHA, call 970-629-8345 or visit Craig Youth Hockey Association on Facebook.