The Monarch hockey team is living up to the hype.
Expected to be one of the deepest, most talented clubs in the state, the Coyotes have not let the burden of their lofty goals drag them down during the early portion of the season. Following an impressive 5-3 win at Resurrection Christian on Wednesday, Monarch shares the top mark in the Foothills Conference with a 7-0 record.
Last year, Resurrection Christian handed the Coyotes defeats of 9-1 and 5-2 before eventually reaching high school hockey's version of the Frozen Four. It has been a different story this year, as Monarch has already posted a pair of victories against the Cougars.
"We beat them in the first game of the year 2-1, but they've really been pumping teams since then," Monarch coach Jimmy Dexter said. "We knew we'd be in for a battle going up there. Some of the teams we've played so far haven't been the strongest. Going up there was a real test and it was a good win.
"We're really deep. A lot of teams have one good line or maybe two. Our top three lines are all first-line caliber."
Seven different Monarch players have scored at least three goals, led by a team-leading nine from Walker Harris. Eight different players have tallied at least three assists, an effort led by leading point-scorer Jake Christofferson.
Christofferson was the club's leading scorer last year, recording 19 goals and 14 assists. Yet with more talent surrounding him, Christofferson has assumed more of a play-making role. He already has surpassed his assist total from last year with 16, the most in the state. Christofferson also enters the weekend leading the state with 22 points.
"He's such a talented kid," Dexter said. "We've spent a lot of time working on his temper, because last year he spent too much time in the penalty box. For Jake, a lot of his points have come on the power play where he's really moving the puck around to our guys."
The Coyotes play at Mullen on Saturday and will face a stern test at home on Monday against Ralston Valley, which is expected to be one of the contenders for the Foothills Conference crown.
Follow Pat on Twitter: @prooney07