With the rest of their fellow Moffat County High School athletes still in practice mode, the older members of the Craig Youth Hockey Association have already had quite a few games under their belt, with more to come. .
The Moffat County Bulldogs hockey team as part of CYHA has a plentiful roster this season with a combined lineup of school and high school age players.
Traditionally, the team consists of athletes aged 15-18 at the senior level, but with only a handful of children aged 13 and 14 at the bantam level, the two teams are combined.
“We don’t have enough for a fully Bantam team, but they’re doing pretty well,” said coach Cary Herndon. “We have speed, always speed, now we just have to adjust it. We have young children and we have to get them up to speed.”
Herndon is in his first year of training in older children – with son Memphis and daughter Dylan both in training – following his predecessor John Doane.
“I followed Doane for two years and then his son graduated, so I took over,” Herndon said. “I have a lot of help from Tim Knez, and the parents are great, plus I have one of our old kids helping me on the bench. It’s good, I have support.
As is common for CYHA – which is a hockey club organization rather than a team that exists under the auspices of MCHS and the Colorado High School Activities Association – the top team will have a minimum of home games this season, although it will benefit from participation. a fall calendar of the Colorado Recreational Hockey League that will run through the winter.
“It officially starts in early November, then you play through the winter and into January. Then they reseeded us and we start playing against other teams for the final installment, ”Herndon said.
The schedule will be considerably busier than last season, although the downside is facing teams that have had a lot of preparation time.
“A lot of things slowed us down and we had only been on the ice for two weeks before our first game. Some of them have been playing since the summer, but our kids can hang out with them, ”he said.
MCHS junior Garrett Anson noted he could make a difference in the team’s first set of games.
“A lot of teams have been on the ice for over a month, and we just got out here,” said Anson. “We have a lot of veteran players so that’s good.”
Three weeks after the start of November, the Bulldogs are 2-5-1, ending a streak of Front Range weekends with a 2-0 win over Fort Collins on November 21 after losses in a row against Arvada.
Although their home games at Loudy-Simpson Park Ice Arena are limited – with provisional games scheduled for early December and a mid-February streak in an ever-changing schedule – MoCo started the season with a weekend 1. -2 against Hyland Hills, who brought three full teams to Craig on November 6-7.
As the Bulldogs fell to both Orange and Black Jaguars, they claimed their first victory in a 7-6 game that was played in the last minute.
The Jags were leading 3-0 early in the second period before a successful penalty shot from Garret Stockman triggered the Bulldogs.
“It looked like it had broken the ice for us,” Stockman said of the score.
Stockman, Kyle Hoag and Baryn Suessmeier are the senior members of the squad, which has regularly seen intermediate level athletes play, although that dynamic is still pronounced this season.
“I try to have fun and help the little ones and help them get better,” said Suessmeier, adding that as a defender his strategy has been to hold back and help the goalkeeper. as much as possible.
He noted that after a very sporadic season in 2020-21, he looks forward to a more consistent schedule.
“It’s going to be a lot better this season since we will have a lot more games,” said Suessmeier.
As someone who has been playing at the 18U level since before he was in high school, Stockman is especially excited to get back to normal and help new teammates as well.
“We have good games booked and we are trying to figure things out with the younger ones with us and try to move everything forward,” he said. “I’m trying to be a leader for these young guys and help them so that we can be a good team this year.”