Getting scrappy: Junior Mavs top Moffat County in physical contest
The Grand Valley Junior Mavericks midget hockey team came out Sunday morning ready for contact.
Taking on Moffat County at Glacier Ice Arena, the Mavs outplayed a physical Bulldogs team in a 5-3 win.
“(They’re) a physical team,” Grand Valley coach Robert Flenard said. “They hit everything that moves, but they started chasing us around and we started burning them later.”
The two teams played a check-heavy and scoreless first period. Moffat County opened up the scoring in the second period when Jarrod Stillion scored.
The Junior Mavericks responded five minutes later as Michael Porter scored on breakaway goal against Bulldogs goalie Curt Ellgen.
Grand Valley scored again with under a minute remaining as Jaden Koos knocked in a deflection to take a 2-1 lead heading into the third period.
“I think we got out-worked at times,” Flenard said. “But we scored timely goals and the guys started to pick up the pace.”
Looking to close out the game in the third period, the Mavericks’ Brad Walter scored first allowing Grand Valley to take a 3-1 lead.
Undeterred, Moffat County’s Cole Dubois scored 15 seconds later.
“We have a tendency to get complacent,” Flenard said. “We score and everyone thinks, look how it easy that was, then we don’t pick up the pace.”
The Mavericks were in the same situation a few minutes later after a Ben Smalta goal gave Grand Valley a two-goal lead. The Bulldogs’ Dubois scored to cut the lead to 4-3.
With five minutes remaining, defense and solid goaltending by AJ Hamon allowed the Mavericks to pull out the win.
Hamon finished the game with 20 saves.
“AJ looked good out there,” Flenard said. “He’s very talkative and knows when to slow the game down, and he knows when to chip pucks out and keep the game moving.”
The Mavericks midget team is made up of players ages 16 to 18 from all over Mesa County. Flenard’s in his second year as head coach, and said the team is starting to grow.
“We are mostly 17 and 18-year-olds so it’s a pretty mature team,” Flenard said. “But half the team has probably only played one or two years of competitive hockey.”
With the team’s inexperience, Flenard said the Mavericks’ most important team goal at this point is to improve their on-ice awareness.
“It’s still a work in progress,” Flenard said. “We are trying to improve the skill level and have everyone’s hockey knowledge be at the same spot.”