Moffat County hockey sets goals for big season
The Moffat County Bulldogs have had slow movement in getting their full season charted out, but if early games are any indication, other teams in the league had best watch their backs.
Head coach: Tim Knez
Knez will head the team for the third straight year, having built up players across the years and continuing to boost their skills in the game. Though roster numbers have been an issue in previous years, coaches oversee a team this season that is heavy on senior talent as well as players from the younger ranks.
“All the seniors are wanting to be team leaders, and it’s been a real blessing,” Tim Knez said. “They’ve bought into what we’ve been teaching them for so many years, and it’s been showing.”
The 18 and under Midget group for Craig Youth Hockey Association notched a 9-16-1 tally for the prior year, making it into the first round playoff game for Colorado Recreational Hockey League before falling 7-4 to Arvada.
2018-19 seniors: Grady Anson, AJ Barber, Wyatt Boatright, Jesse Earle, Logan Knez, Colton Lodato
The seniors are evenly split between forwards and defensemen this year. In his junior year, Boatright was the Bulldogs’ top scorer with 41 goals across the schedule, as well as leading the team in assists. He will be playing both for the Moffat County club team as well as Steamboat Springs’ varsity program.
Barber followed in the goal count last year with 13, while Lodato was ranked fourth with seven. Lodato also suited up twice as goalie when the need came.
On the other end of the ice, Earle, Anson and Logan Knez were among the team’s heavy hitters in providing protection around the goal, and the past year has only made them more stalwart.
Key returners: Jack Doane, Clay Durham, Corey Scranton, Garett Stockman
In a season of challenges for MoCo hockey, perhaps no one stood the test of toughness more than Doane. In the crease, the Bulldog keeper was able to come back from a laceration by a skate to the back of his leg early in the schedule. Overall, he had 488 saves throughout the year.
In his freshman year, Scranton likewise stood tall with older players, but the end of the winter also brought in the cavalry as then-middle school players Durham and Stockman suited up for the high school team and made an immediate impact after the conclusion of the 14U Bantam season.
Garrett Anson also will be playing up an age level this season while also competing for CYHA’s Bantam team to give the Midgets a deeper bench.
Though the schedule is not complete, the Dogs couldn’t have asked for a better entry into this season. Games in November and early December treated them well as they started with a 6-0 shutout against Arapahoe followed by another win at 8-2.
The team moved to 4-0 with road wins of 6-3 and 4-2 against Arvada to keep the momentum going.
“I’d say they’ve learned and really bought into passing and shooting and working as a team in the game of hockey,” Tim Knez said.
The group will host its home opener this weekend with a larger series than they expected. Instead of just a Saturday doubleheader with Hyland Hills, Bulldogs will play the full weekend before Christmas against both the HH Jaguars and the Capitals of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Games are at 4:30 and 6:15 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 and 11:15 a.m. Sunday at Moffat County Ice Arena at Loudy-Simpson Park, 600 S. Ranney St.
“They’ve been working more as a team now than they ever have, and it’s been great,” Tim Knez said.
After four days of competition at Whittle the Wood Rendezvous, Lincoln, Nebraska’s Nate Hall can count himself a seasoned competitor in one of Northwest Colorado’s premier events as he embarks on an ongoing career in the field of wood sculpture.