Young hockey team growing
Bulldog Midgets 'still learning what it takes'
Replacing a line of veterans from last year’s team hasn’t been easy for the Moffat County Bulldog Hockey Club.
“We had to replace a line of seniors with a line of guys moving up from the bantams,” junior Brad Grinstead said. “Last year’s team was strong and fast. This year, we’re still learning what it takes.”
The Bulldogs will compete tonight against last year’s best club team on the Western Slope. Unless bad weather prevents it, the Glenwood Midget team is coming to town for a double-header starting at 7 p.m. at the Loudy-Simpson Ice Arena.
“We’ll be playing a team that competes regularly in a Front Range league,” assistant coach Jay Oxley said.
The Bulldogs haven’t done too poorly in their own league. They are 3-0-1 with a tie against Oak Creek.
“Our league will be tough,” Oxley said. “Telluride has been tearing it up down south.”
Eagle, Oak Creek and Krem–mling are in the Northern Division of the Rocky Moun–tain Youth Hockey League. The Bulldogs haven’t faced Eagle in the regular season but lost to them twice in the Turkey Bowl tournament during Thanksgiving.
“We’ve improved a lot since then,” Grinstead said. “At the beginning of the season, the younger guys would do what we call ‘panic passing.’ That’s when you pass the puck to get away from taking a hit, but now we’re starting to take those hits to make a good pass.”
The Bulldogs are 6-5-1 overall going into tonight’s games.
“We’ve played a tough non-league schedule,” Oxley said. “Tonight doesn’t get any better, but our young guys are improving and it will be good to see if we’ve improved.”
There are only two high school seniors on the Bulldog’s 24-player roster with previous traveling league experience: goalie Malcolm Hillewaert and Brett Lindgren.
“We have good leadership,” Oxley said. “Those guys coming up are learning from them.”
After tonight, the Bulldogs will have hockey every weekend until late February.
“It’s a rebuilding year for us, but I think by the end of the season, we’ll have grown up,” Oxley said. “The younger guys are a great asset for the future of our team.”
Grinstead said he has seen the progress that will bring the team back to the level it was at last year when it finished second to Glenwood Springs in the regional tournament.
“We are going into games after break with our energy back, and we’re refocused,” he said. “Against Glenwood, we’ll have to keep our heads up and make quick, hard passes.”
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