Moffat County Bulldog hockey looks to parlay fall growth into winter victories

Moffat County's Jaryd Preston kicks up some frost while vying for the puck at mid-ice against Northern Colorado Saturday, Nov. 12.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

As the weather gets colder in the coming weeks, the eldest members of Craig Youth Hockey Association are just getting warmed up.

CYHA’s 18 and under Midget team is at the tail end of its early season and readying for the winter. The Moffat County Bulldogs fought through three home games over the weekend as they got a peek at the Colorado Recreational Hockey League.

The league is currently in its fall season but will retain most of the same teams once the winter schedule begins.

Moffat County’s Zane Durham passes around a Northern Colorado opponent Saturday, Nov. 12.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

Getting the local team in gear sooner rather than later has been beneficial, even if other programs regularly start in September.

“We got started a little bit earlier this year at the end of October, but these Front Range teams always start quite a bit earlier than we do. These games really get them going,” said coach Steven Wagner.

Since starting up again, the Dogs have struggled to get a win but have had no shortage of goals, with their best result so far a Nov. 6 a 4-4 road draw against Arapahoe.

Saturday, Nov. 12, saw a round robin format at Moffat County Ice Arena between MoCo, Fort Collins’ Northern Colorado Youth Hockey, and the Grand Junction River Hawks.

Moffat County Bulldog hockey players warm up between games Saturday, Nov. 12.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

The NCYH Eagles are a league opponent for the Dogs and proved a formidable foe, beating the Craig crew 6-2 defeat. For the Bulldogs, Jaryd Preston and Hayden Urroz each picked up a goal.

Promptly following the loss, Moffat faced off with Grand Junction, keeping it close in a physical 3-2 loss, this time with cousins Zane Durham and Logan Durham each putting one in the net.

“I think we got a little trippy with them since we know how they play, we’ve played them before. I know most of them, they’re pretty cool,” said Zane, a Moffat County sophomore.

Moffat County’s Logan Durham goes after a loose puck against Grand Junction Saturday, Nov. 12.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

In a game with a few too many penalties, Wagner noted that Logan’s short-handed score in the second period was especially heartening.

“We were definitely down then, but he got us a goal that we really needed,” he said. “We had to get better on talking out there and pressuring the puck and we finally started to put something together toward the end.”

Moffat County goalie Caden Bugay deflects a low shot by Grand Junction Saturday, Nov. 12.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

The Bulldogs also fell 4-1 to the River Hawks Sunday morning, Nov. 16. Moffat’s fall season will conclude this weekend, away from home with a Front Range tournament where they’ll face Boulder and Lafayette.

The transition before the official winter schedule will allow the team to keep building and maintain their strengths, which includes a sizable bench of both middle school and high school players.

“We have a lot of players this year, lot of new kids. That helps us since we get more guys on the ice,” Zane said.

Moffat County’s Memphis Herndon and Forrest Siminoe consult with coaches during a timeout Saturday, Nov. 12.
Andy Bockelman/Craig Press

Additionally, it will let athletes focus more on hockey alone; several players were balancing the sport with football in the past weeks.

MoCo senior Garrett Anson said he was feeling tired with the rapid succession of games coming right off the gridiron. However, he has no complaints with lots of hockey in what will be his final year with the team.

“I just want to play all the way through. We’ve been doing this since we were kids,” he said.

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