‘Tis the season for perseverance: Craig Squirts never give up during home hockey tourney | CraigDailyPress.com

‘Tis the season for perseverance: Craig Squirts never give up during home hockey tourney

The players of Craig Youth Hockey Association's 10 and under team might have preferred a perfect weekend heading into the holidays, but good competition can be the gift that keeps on giving.

CYHA Squirts finished second in their home event, the 'Tis the Season Tournament, Saturday and Sunday at Moffat County Ice Arena.

Altogether, the Cougars were 2-2-1, starting with wins of 3-2 and 7-1 against two teams from Rock Springs, Wyoming. The Saturday evening game with Park City, Utah came to a 5-5 draw.

Sunday morning the Craig crew saw their biggest challenge yet from the Capitals of Cheyenne, Wyoming, who took a 7-5 victory. With the best results of the weekend, the two teams were lined up for the championship game, and the Cougars were eager for the rematch.

However, Cheyenne came out stronger still, with a 4-0 lead to conclude the first period. A penalty kill goal by Grant Sis got Craig on the board, but the Capitals answered right back to make it 6-1 going into the third period.

Patrick Neton and Hayden Urroz each put the puck in the net, but Cheyenne also scored twice more to end it 8-3.

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"They're a strong club," Craig coach James Neton said of the Capitals. "Our boys fought really hard and came from behind in two of these games. They never gave up in any situation and worked really hard to get to that championship game. The score didn't turn out like we wanted, but we're real proud of them working like that to get to that spot."

Facing off with such fierce competitors will only serve to make the group better, he added.

Across five games, Urroz led the team in goals with seven, followed by Boston Armstrong with six. Sis and Patrick Neton each scored four, Tristin Smith and Jaryd Presten one apiece. Eric Warrior led in assists with three.

In goal, Quinn Allen had 11 saves in two games and Wyatt Schell 24 across three.

The weekend at the arena was capped off by a scrimmage between the Craig 8U Mites program and Oak Creek.

A scoreless format was one of constant action as players moved the puck around on only one half of the ice working on passing, shooting and skating. Line changes took place every few minutes to rotate players evenly.

"We have a lot of brand-new skaters, so that's a challenge, but the goal is for them to to have fun so they stick with it and move up," said Dana Armstrong, who coaches along with husband Mike Armstrong, Caleb Kinkaid and Stacy Nichols. "They pick it up really fast. These young ones are resilient."

CYHA also had teams on the road during the weekend, including the 14U Bantam level Western Slope Sting playing Saturday in Steamboat Springs, dropping two games 5-0 and 8-2, with Clay Durham taking both goals.

In 18U Midget action, the Moffat County Bulldogs were 1-1 Sunday, starting with a 7-4 victory over the Arapahoe Maize team, complete with a Wyatt Boatright hat trick, two goals by Colton Lodato and one each by Zach Soron and AJ Barber.

The round robin in Fraser also saw Bulldogs fall 4-2 to a Fraser-Steamboat combined squad, Boatright earning both goals.

CYHA teams will return to play the weekend of Jan. 6, with Midgets hosting Arvada, Bantams traveling to Gunnison and the 12U Peewees picking up after a lengthy hiatus with four games in Steamboat. Squirts will next play Jan. 20 in Vail.

CYHA will also host a New Year's Eve party from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 31 at Moffat County Ice Arena complete with open skating, games and food.

The cost is $6 per person for skating and $6 for refreshments with special rates for families.

For more information, call 970-629-2380.