Moffat County hockey hits hard, scores big at Front Range tourney | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County hockey hits hard, scores big at Front Range tourney

Players and coaches with Craig Youth Hockey Association's Moffat County Bulldogs celebrate as runners-up of the Mile High Meltdown in Denver.

The oldest members of Craig Youth Hockey Association were something of an instant legend during President’s Day weekend.

With a minimal amount of players and a lengthy stretch of games, Moffat County Bulldogs took on teams with nearly triple the bench size and still kept fighting to the final match.

The Dogs took second place overall among 18-and-under opponents in Denver’s Mile High Meltdown Feb. 15 to 18.

“Six skaters, one goalie, six games,” said head coach Tim Knez, noting the weekend was full of individual accomplishments, particularly in the first five games, all wins.

Goalie Jack Doane earned a shutout in the first round Friday, a 5-0 rout of Arapahoe, with 15 saves complemented by solid scoring from the Dogs’ offense.

Wins of 3-1 and 4-2 against Northern Colorado and Hyland Hills, respectively, followed the next day, while Sunday was a 4-3 victory against Littleton to sweep the pool and place first.

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The following games pitted the winner and runner-up of each of the two pools against each other, with the Bulldogs beating out second-place Greeley 5-2 to move into the championship round.

The hot streak came to an end Monday with the final game, a 3-2 loss to Arvada.

“It was pretty incredible,” said assistant coach Terry Barber.

He added that Doane had the best goals against average rate of any keeper in the 18U Midget division of the tournament, earning a 1.83 with 53 total saves and only 11 getting past him.

AJ Barber led the Moffat County scoring with 10 goals and six assists, getting him the top individual points tally for the two combined among all Midget teams. Throughout the weekend, Corey Scranton put up four goals and five assists, with Colton Lodato also netting four and assisting twice.

Logan Knez put in three, while Garret Anson was also able to add to the scoring effort, and Jesse Earle remained the team’s defensive anchor alongside Doane.

Terry Barber said the finish was especially impressive given the Dogs weren’t at full strength and were sharing the ice with squads boasting 20 skaters and two goalies. And, other programs took notice of the smaller team’s tenacity.

“They gelled as a team, came together and never gave up,” he said. “Even when they’d get down by a couple goals, all of a sudden we’d just bounce back. Even though they were exhausted, they trusted each other and kept working to win. We had to change our entire gameplan and remain very patient, and they just kept going.”

CYHA will host Senior Night for the Bulldogs at 6:45 p.m. Saturday at Moffat County Ice Arena with a rematch against Northern Colorado, with an accompanying game the next morning at 9:45 a.m.