SUPERIOR -- Coming into Monday, the last thing Jake Christofferson figured he'd be chatting about was regrouping. But that was exactly the topic of conversation for the Monarch forward after his team's most recent outing.
What brought up the sore subject for one of the state's most dynamic attackers was the Coyotes hitting the initial bump in what has been otherwise a smooth road to the top. For the first time this season Monarch fell, unable to stop a late surge by Ralston Valley.
The Mustangs rallied from an early deficit, notching three unanswered goals for a 3-2 win at Boulder Valley Ice in Superior. In the process, the team ended Monarch's eight-game winning steak.
"It was terrible," Christofferson said. "But bounces and little penalties at the end killed us."
Ralston Valley (7-1, 4-0) took the lead in the Foothills Conference standings over Monarch (8-1, 4-1) behind a strong offensive charge in the final 6 minutes of play. Greg Dyba was at the center of the action with the Mustangs forward netting both the equalizer and go-ahead goal. The junior started off with a wrister at the top of the face-off circle with 5:38 left on the clock. He then took advantage of his team's only power play of the game, scoring 30 seconds after the Coyotes were shorthanded because of a slashing call.
"It was a tough slashing call, to put us down," Monarch coach Jimmy Dexter said. "It's a tough way to lose."
Ralston Valley started its rally when Victor Lombardi netted his team's game-opening goal in the first 5 minutes of the second period. But up to that point all of the action had been squarely on the Coyotes' attack.
Christofferson had Monarch rolling in the first period, recording his 25th and 26th points of the season on back-to-back power plays. The forward opened his team's scoring on a 5-on-4 opportunity 1:30 into the action. He then helped extend the Coyotes' margin, feeding Jake Orsborn for a goal when Ralston Valley had just three skaters on the ice.
While the early success had the team's faithful fired up, some Coyotes thought it might have been a doubled-edge sword that cut them.
"It was real tough," Orsborn said. "The mood in the locker room needs to change a little bit for us. We need to focus the whole time. We needed to build off that first period."
Dexter also saw the danger in his team breaking the game open early.
"The saying goes, the two-goal lead in hockey is the worst lead you can have," the coach said.
The loss stings, but as Dexter pointed out it does little to derail Monarch from a top finish in conference.
"We right there," he said. "We're ahead of Resurrection (Christian), (Ralston Valley) has one loss and Regis has one tie."
From the players' standpoint, the loss could have good and bad implications.
"We're just going to work that much harder after losing this game... and we'll probably see them again in playoffs," Christofferson said. "But it really is a setback. You never want to lose an undefeated season."
Follow Elwood on Twitter: @ElwoodKShelton.
Ralston Valley 3, Monarch 2
At Boulder Valley Ice at Superior
Ralston Valley (7-1, 3-0) 0 1 2-- 3
Monarch (8-0, 4-0) 2 0 0-- 2
Goals (assists) -- First Period: 1. Monarch, Jake Christofferson (Justin White, Jake Orsborn), 2:24 (pp); 2. Jake Orsborn (Jake Christofferson, Walker Harris), 6:14 (pp). Second Period: 3. Ralston Valley, Victor Lombardi (Nathan Mikesell, Austin Ressegule), 5:11. Third Period: 4. Ralston Valley, Greg Dyba (Tanner West, Charles Joly), 11:02; 5. Ralston Valley, Greg Dyba (Charles Joly), 13:54 (pp).
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) -- Ralston Valley: Zach Larocque (51-2-31). Monarch: Ian Oden (51-3-24).