Moffat County hockey earns shutout victory, last-minute loss in playoff tourney
DENVER — As the snow came down across the state, many may have been seeking out warmer opportunities, but Moffat County Bulldog hockey was staying cool on the Front Range.
Bulldogs went 1-1 during the weekend’s Colorado Recreational Hockey League playoff tournament, a single-elimination event that saw the Northwest Colorado squad enter as the top team.
At 11-0 in official league play, the Dogs held first place in the conference and earned a first-round bye to start the tourney, setting them up for the quarterfinals against Northern Colorado, out of Fort Collins, which Moffat County swept 9-3 and 8-3 in a doubleheader when the Junior Eagles came to Craig.
Bulldogs didn’t run up the score nearly as much this time around but still skated away with a healthy win in a 4-0 shutout Saturday at Littleton’s Ice Ranch.
Wyatt Boatright knocked in the first goal in less than a minute, with 53 seconds off the clock when he scored off an assist from Corey Scranton.
Garett Stockman promptly followed on the scoreboard in about another 30 seconds, aided by Clay Durham and Grady Anson.
The next Moffat County goal took some time, but Boatright put it in about 10 minutes into the second period with Grady Anson and AJ Barber getting the assists. Boatright made it thrice as nice with a hat trick unassisted to close the period.
“It was a good first game so we could get a feel for the rest of the tournament,” Barber said. “We came out and made sure we didn’t underestimate them. For so many years, we’d come out and teams would do that to us, but then we’d beat them.”
On the other end, Bulldog goalie Jack Doane’s work was limited to five saves as heavy defense by Logan Knez, Garret Anson, Jesse Earle and the rest of the MoCo crew kept the Eagles slowed.
“We just kept pressuring, pressuring, pressuring,” Logan said. We started out strong and kind of cooled off a little bit in the second period there, but the whole team just went out on fire.”
Head coach Tim Knez noted he didn’t want players to think Northern Colorado would provide no challenge.
“Every weekend is a different game,” he said.
Sunday morning saw the Dogs suit up at Centennial’s Family Sports Center for the semifinals against the Littleton Hawks.
A swift score by the Hawks’ Alex Bowen got the Bulldogs behind at the beginning, only for Barber and Boatright to open the second period with one goal each, the two both providing the pass to the other for the score.
As it looked like the Bulldogs would move on to the championship game that afternoon, Littleton came back to life in the final two minutes of the game as Luc Forrest scored a tying goal and Bowen got the go-ahead to give the Hawks the 3-2 win, later moving on to take the tourney title with a 2-0 victory against Hyland Hills.
The Bulldogs, 19-4-1, will complete the season this weekend with a series in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Craig Middle School’s fall sports programs had a hectic day Tuesday with home events against rivals Steamboat Springs for football and volleyball.