‘Tis the season for wins: Craig Cougar hockey claims title in holiday home tournament
It was a very merry early Christmas present this week for one Craig hockey team.
Craig Youth Hockey Association’s ‘Tis the Season Tournament last Friday through Sunday saw the 10 and under Squirt Cougars go undefeated against teams from Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.
Coach Mike Armstrong said part of what made the victory special was doing it for a fallen comrade.
“Tristan Smith, one of our team’s top defensemen, broke his leg in Gunnison during our last set of games and with him being out that took our roster down to nine skaters,” he said. “We ended up having four Oak Creek kids play with our team. The cool part about the tournament was Tristan came out to every game, and we’d carry him onto the bench so he could support his team.”
Squirts beat Vernal, Utah 4-0 to start followed by back-to-back wins over dual Rock Springs, Wyoming squads, 6-2 and 8-6.
A 1-0 victory over Fort Collins’ Northern Colorado set them up for the championship, which was a rematch with Northern Colorado.
Though things started tough, solid saves by Quinn Allen, a goal by Eric Warrior and two by Boston Armstrong gave them the 3-2 triumph to claim the title banner to place in the rafters of Moffat County Ice Arena.
“Every game was a good close game. There weren’t any blowouts, so those kids really had to skate hard,” coach Armstrong said. “There was just a fire in them and despite being down they never gave up.”
Jim Neton’s 12U Peewees also had a good weekend, picking up a win over Vernal 4-0 to start. A 2-2 tie and a 6-3 win against Rock Springs was followed by a 9-2 defeat by Northern Colorado.
In the final round, the Cougars had it tied at 3 before Fort Collins scored two quick goals. Craig pulled their goalie, which saw Fort Collins increase their defense long enough to gain the championship 5-3.
“Excellent heart and soul effort,” Neton said of the team’s hard-fought second place honors. “Great tourney to get into finals with both teams and win one championship.”
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Erin Smiddy has lived in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District nearly all her life. An unaffiliated voter who lives in Aspen, Smiddy said she voted for President Joe Biden and Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, who ran against Republican Lauren Boebert, in the 2020 election. So far she said she’s not impressed with Boebert’s job performance.