SUPERIOR -- The scene has been as common as it has been inspiring for the Monarch hockey team this season.
When the Coyotes get a man advantage, which has been frequently during the team's impressive 11-1 start, sophomores Walker Harris and Justin White take their customary positions at the point of Monarch's power play.
The duo, both sophomores who attend Fairview, routinely slide the puck back-and-forth, looking for weak spots in opposing defenses. Often either White or Harris manufactures enough of an opening to launch shots that typically find the back of the net. Other times one of them successfully feeds an open teammate, more often than not junior Jake Christofferson, for power play goals that routinely take the fight out of the opposition.
Honed through an entire decade of being teammates with the Boulder Bison junior program, the improved contributions from White and Harris are a big reason why the Coyotes expect to remain among the top programs in the state when the team returns to action following a brief midseason hiatus on Feb. 1 at home against Kent Denver.
"We've been best friends for about 10 years playing hockey together," Harris said. "We have a lot of chemistry up at the point. We play the point together during the club season a lot. Coming into Monarch, that made it easy."
While much of Monarch's success falls upon the capable shoulders of Christofferson -- he currently leads the state in assists (22) and shares the lead in points (34) -- the significant step forward taken by players such as White and Harris is the biggest reason why Monarch has evolved from a talented but inexperienced team to a potential state title contender.
After recording seven goals and 11 assists last year, Harris is tied for third in the state with 14 goals and holds sole possession of third-place in the state with 14 assists. White, a defenseman, posted just nine points on one goal and eight assists as a freshman last year but already has contributed four goals and nine assists this year.
Much of the damage done by Harris and White has occurred when the Coyotes have a man advantage. Harris has posted four goals and seven assists during power-play situations, while White has tallied two goals and four assists with a man advantage. Even Christofferson, a senior at Niwot, has gotten in on the act, compiling almost half his points (six goals, eight assists) during power-play chances.
"I've already doubled my points this year because of them," White said. "Other than the fact that me and Walker go to school together and see each other every day, we've played hockey since we were like 6 together. It's one of those things where you know where each other is going to be on the ice, even without them calling for it. New guys, you usually have to hear them and then get your head up. A lot of times with him you can make passes with your head down. That kind of thing saves you."
While the Christofferson and Harris-led offense has provided countless highlights during Monarch's 11-1 start, head coach Jimmy Dexter believes it is the improved depth the Coyotes boast defensively that has keyed the team's surge toward the top of the Foothills Conference standings.
The remaining schedule plays into Monarch's favor. With seven games remaining, the Coyotes face only three squads currently sporting winning records, including a home tilt against defending state champion Regis Jesuit on Feb. 11 that may decide the conference crown. Monarch has allowed three goals in a game just twice, most recently on Jan. 14 when a Ralston Valley comeback resulted in Monarch's only loss of the season, and the Coyotes play six of their final seven games at home.
"We've got Justin White, D.J. Burnett and Chris Miller, all of whom I would consider top defensemen," Dexter said. "Then we have a great supporting cast with three more guys. We're six deep that we can run out there. We haven't had that luxury in the past."
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