CENTENNIAL — A week after sending a message of dominance to the state with wins over top-ranked teams Cherry Creek and Ralston Valley, the Monarch hockey team hammered home that message on Saturday.
In a clash of Colorado's only remaining unbeaten teams, No. 1-ranked Monarch prevailed with a 3-0 win over No. 2-ranked Regis Jesuit on the strength of a pair of timely goals and an unbelievable defensive performance.
"Throughout the season I've had confidence in myself and them," said Monarch goalkeeper Hunter Ingino, who stole the show with 27 saves against the Raiders. "They've got my back and I've got their backs."
The previously unbeaten Raiders (14-1, 10-1 Foothills League) were heavy on the attack early in Friday's game. While his team came out slow, Coyotes (12-0, 10-0 Foothills League) head coach Jimmy Dexter said Ingino and some inspired play from the Coyotes' penalty killing lines kept them in the game.
During a Raiders power play, Coyotes senior Jake Young stole the puck and scored a shorthanded goal to break the scoreless stalemate with 3 minutes, 21 seconds left in the second period. With 15:01 left in the third, Young assisted senior teammate Adam Tybor on a score to put the Coyotes up two. Down a man for the final two minutes of the game, Young scored the Coyotes' third goal, an empty-net score with 32 seconds left.
"I'm just always working hard to get it done on the power play," Young said. "We needed one and it was kind of lucky that I was able to get that goal on the power play. It's always going through your head when you have five guys on the other team chasing behind you that you have to just take it and try not to get caught."
The Raiders, who got 21 saves from goalkeeper Sam Gartner on Saturday, defeated the Coyotes 4-1 during last year's regular season but the Coyotes bested them 5-1 in the state semifinals. As close as the team's most recent meeting and the height of the stakes between the two remaining unbeatens made Saturday's win a major relief for Monarch.
"We'll take it," Dexter said. "I mean, they're playing really well. I think we got some bounces, too. They hit a couple of posts. So 3-0, it could have been closer than that."
The Coyotes will face Columbine on the road Tuesday.
Monarch 3, Regis Jesuit 0
At Family Sports CenterMonarch (12-0, 10-0) 0 1 2 — 3 Regis Jesuit (14-1, 10-1) 0 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — Monarch: Jake Young, 30th minute; Adam Tybor (Young, Brendan Van Haute), 36th; Young, 36th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Monarch: Hunter Ingino (51-0-27); Regis Jesuit: Sam Gartner (51-2-21).