SUPERIOR — Through 19 games and over the course of 969 minutes of ice time this 2015-16 season, the Monarch hockey team has trailed or has been tied at a score other than zero for exactly 33 minutes and 15 seconds.
While Dakota Ridge was able to contribute to that total in the Coyotes' 20th game of the year — a Saturday playoff quarterfinal at Boulder Valley Ice — a strong third period that included winning battles between the circles carried Monarch into the state semifinals next week.
Five different players scored for MoHi, and Hunter Ingino settled down in the final frame with a steady glove hand to give the Coyotes a 5-2 win and yet another Frozen Four matchup against rival Ralston Valley on Thursday at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.
"It's an awesome feeling to get to say we're back (to the Budweiser Events Center), and we've been working so hard all year and waiting for this moment," said Brendan Van Haute, who had a goal and an assist in the contest. "We're ready to go."
Dakota Ridge has proven one of the teams that has given Monarch the most trouble over the past two seasons, and this rematch of a 3-2 MoHi victory back on January 5 was actually quite a bit closer.
In that game, Monarch built a 3-0 cushion; Saturday, after getting a Franny Churches shorthanded goal with just 1.9 seconds left in the first period followed by Van Haute's tally 32 ticks into the second frame, Dakota Ridge made their comeback attempt much earlier.
Andrew Endsley's even-strength goal at 5:51 of the second made it 2-1, and the Eagles struck again with a power play at 7:39 to tie it all at 2-2.
Given a push that a quality team seeking a championship needs once in a while, the Coyotes responded. The Eagles controlled possession for several ensuing minutes, but Blake Bride's wraparound score at 14:56 of the second energized Monarch once again.
Jake Young and Adam Tybor both scored from right up the gut in the third period, and Ingino made 12 saves in that final frame to derail the Eagles' upset bid.
"They started out real well in front of the net but we just kept trying to get pucks in and tip a few. That's how I scored," said Van Haute. "We went hard to the net all night. There was a ton of intensity, and they played very well, but we brought our best (Saturday)."
"Us rolling lines the way we can, I really think by the third period we just got (Dakota Ridge) worn down, and our guys just kept going," Monarch coach Jimmy Dexter said. "They're not a five seed team. In fact, they are by far one of the best teams in the league. The effort they were putting out, they were trying to pound us. We're sending guys to the net ... it's nice to get some ugly goals."
Thursday's semifinal game times have not been disclosed.
CHSAA State Hockey Quarterfinals
Monarch 5, Dakota Ridge 2
At Boulder Valley IceDakota Ridge (11-5) 0 2 0 — 2 Monarch (20-0) 1 2 2 — 5
Goals (assists) — Monarch: Franny Churches (unassisted), 1st, 16:59 (short-handed); Monarch: Brendan Van Haute (Blake Bride), 2nd, :32; Dakota Ridge: Andrew Endsley (Jack Bonniwell, Matteo Glennon), 2nd, 5:51; Dakota Ridge: Charles Huang (Bonniwell), 2nd, 7:39 (power play); Monarch: Bride (Andrew Pickner, Mason Peterson), 2nd, 14:56; Monarch: Jake Young (Van Haute, Adam Tybor), 3rd, 4:20; Monarch: Tybor (Gage Sealey), 3rd, 9:10.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Dakota Ridge: Nick Scott (51-5-38); Monarch: Hunter Ingino (51-2-25).