When Walker Harris reminisces on Monarch's run into the 2012 state hockey tournament, he has to contend he was playing for a much different team.

With the Coyotes' roster filled with freshmen and sophomores a year ago, the forward points out the team was wide eyed when it hit the ice. And the nervy entry to the testing bracket made for a quick exit from the postseason. One round and Monarch was sent packing.

This year, however, the team has a completely different feel to Harris. After skating to one of the Coyotes' best seasons and earning home ice the opening two rounds of state, the forward is certain his team is ready to make some noise in the postseason.

"We're much more confident about what we're bring into state this year," he said. "We're ready to go out and prove something."

Monarch (16-1-1) got a huge boost Sunday in its attempt to leave a mark on the state stage. The team earned the No. 2 seed for its side of the brackets, meaning Friday and, if everything works out, Saturday it will be in the friendly confines of Boulder Valley Ice.

Home ice, from Harris' perspective, has all kinds of advantages. The most obvious is the familiarity the players will have with the venue, getting to suit up in their own locker room. But he is also hoping a loud and boisterous pack of Coyote fans fill the stands to give the team an edge.


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"We definitely are hoping a big fan base turns out," said Harris, who has 43 points on the season.

Monarch has plenty of work to still do, but coach Jimmy Dexter is certain his team has made the right moves to build a head of steam for the tournament. For the coach, the biggest boost of the season was the Coyotes' finale against Regis.

The Coyotes had to gut a tie after what Dexter described as a few fluky goals from the Raiders. But coach was still excited after going down to the wire with the defending state champion.

"We thought we played them very well and were happy with the effort," he said. "We came out the aggressors, but some lack of discipline caught us at the end."

The problem against Regis Dexter was referring to was having to finish the game shorthanded. Penalties have been an issue with Monarch all season, one Dexter believes his team must address if it expects to push deep into the playoffs.

"That and make sure we're playing all three periods," he said.

The team will have plenty to motivate them right off the bat given the Coyotes' opposition. The team hosts No. 7 Lewis-Palmer (10-8-1) in the opening round, the team that ended Monarch's season a year ago.

"We feel like we're ready to turn the tables on them," Harris said.

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State hockey playoffs

FIRST ROUND, Friday

At Boulder Valley Ice

No. 2 Monarch (16-1-1) vs. No. 7 Lewis-Palmer (10-8).

No. 3 Air Academy (13-4-1) vs. No. 7 Mullen (10-8-1).

At World Arena

No. 1 Fountain Valley (14-4) vs. No. 8 Chatfield (8-10).

No. 4 Regis (14-1-3) vs. No. 5 Heritage (15-3).

At Apex Ice

No. 1 Ralston Valley (15-2-1) vs. No. 8 Machebuef (7-11).

No. 4 Valor Christian (13-4-1) vs. Standley Lake (12-5-2).

At South Suburban Ice

No. 2 Mountain Vista (16-3) vs. No. 7 Aspen (10-8).

No. 3 Resurrection Christian (14-3-2) vs. No. 6 Dohety (13-6).

QUARTERFINALS, Saturday

At Boulder Valley Ice

TBA

At World Arena

TBA.

At Apex Ice

TBA

At South Suburban Ice

TBA

SEMIFINALS, Feb. 28

At Magness Arena, 6 p.m., 8:30 p.m.

CHAMPIONSHIP, March 1

At Magness Arena, 6 p.m.