Red Dogs hockey loses close battle with league rival |

Red Dogs hockey loses close battle with league rival

A late surge Tuesday night was not enough for the Craig Red Dogs men’s hockey team, as the Dogs came up short in a 6-5 loss to KBCR.

The Red Dogs, who play in the Steamboat Sunday Night League, were down 5-1 in the middle of the second period to a league rival.

Then the team came together and made a late push, team manager/player Greg Neal said.

“Early on, we were losing the little battles that we needed to win,” he said. “Our offense had a slow start, but they came together about halfway through the game.”

The 50-50 battles, which Neal described as opportunities that both teams had an equal advantage at winning, were what came back to haunt the team.

“If a puck was equal distance from one of their players and one of our players, they got it early on,” Neal said. “We just had a team lapse in the first period and a half.”

Alton Simones put in the Red Dogs second goal late in the second period and Colt Criswell added two more goals that were less than 15 seconds apart.

Neal admired one of those goals.

“Criswell ripped the puck right into the top shelf with a wicked slap shot,” Neal said. “The (KBCR) goalie never even moved.”

Recalling the play, Criswell said his plan was to involve one of KBCR’s bigger players, who had been causing problems all night.

“When I got the puck off the face off, I used one of their bigger guys to screen the goalie,” he said. “He was hard to get around all night, so I figured I would just use him to my advantage.”

Criswell said KBCR has a lot of talent and had played at higher levels than any of the Red Dogs players.

“We, as a team, have a tendency to start slow in games,” he said. “We allowed (KBCR) to take an early lead and we had to fight back to stay competitive.”

In the third period, the Red Dogs were down just one, 5-4, before KBCR put in another goal that proved to be the winner. Kevin Oxley added a goal for the Red Dogs, accounting for the final margin.

“In 10 minutes, we stepped it up and had four quick goals to get back in the game,” Neal said. “We had (KBCR) on their heels, we just ran out of time and couldn’t tie it up.”

While the team was able to overcome their early breakdown and bounce back, Neal said line changes and fatigue might have been the determining factor.

“We are averaging about one minute line changes and we need to get it down to 30 seconds,” he said. “We need to have quicker changes, but everyone seemed to be a little tired toward the end.”

Still, Criswell said an audible to the team’s strategy concerning line changes allowed the Red Dogs to charge back into the game.

“Greg started calling more line changes, and I think it really affected (KBCR) because they had less guys dressed for the game,” he said.

Despite the loss, Neal said the team would keep their heads up.

“Everyone still has a positive attitude, and we just have to keep that up,” he said. “If we win those 50-50 battles, we can win games.”

Today through Sunday the Red Dogs host the 17th Annual Yampa Valley Invitational at the Moffat County Ice Arena, 600 Ranney St.

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