SUPERIOR — The Monarch ice hockey team breezed through its first two games of the 2016-17 season but a red-hot Fort Collins team came to town on Saturday night and doused the Coyotes' early-season fire.
The reigning state runners-up entered Saturday's game ranked No. 2 in the CHSAANow.com poll and undefeated, having scored a combined 26 goals against their first two opponents - Standley Lake and Pueblo County. Fort Collins, however, brought its own undefeated record to the table in its inaugural season and dealt the Coyotes a 4-2 defeat.
For a Coyotes team that has appeared in four straight state title games but graduated 17 seniors after last season, an eye-opening experience was probably inevitable. The Coyotes just weren't expecting it this early in the campaign.
"We definitely lacked focus tonight," Coyotes head coach Jimmy Dexter said. "We've played a couple easy games and I think our guys came out and thought they would maybe roll over these guys. But they came out flying and pounding us. We got off to a slow start and never really recovered."
The Lambkins (5-0) jumped on the Coyotes (2-1) right away, scoring in the first 58 seconds of the game and again with eight minutes, four seconds left in the first period to take a 2-0 lead into the second. The Coyotes outscored the Lambkins 2-1 in the second period to cut the deficit to one goal to start the third period.
Still down one goal and down a man because of a tripping penalty, offsetting penalties were called but the Coyotes were called for an additional five-minute major after a post-play skirmish with 1:46 left in the game. Coyotes senior Franny Churches was ejected after the melee.
During Fort Collins' ensuring 4-on-3 advantage, Drew Cronin scored to put the Lambkins up 4-2 with 1:34 left to play and essentially clinch the game.
"It was a lack of discipline there at the end," Dexter said. "Their guy ran us from behind and we would have went on the power play but then our guy got up and went after him. Then another one of our players took a stupid penalty. Yeah, we've got to get better there."
Sal Pisciola, who now has two goals on the season, and Brodie Wiener, who has scored five, accounted for Monarch's two goals. Coyotes goaltender Reese Kelly made 15 saves.
The Coyotes will face their first ranked opponent of the season on Monday when they take on No. 8 Denver East (1-0) in their Foothills League opener.
Fort Collins 4, Monarch 2
At Sports StableFort Collins (5-0) 2 1 1 — 4 Monarch (2-1) 0 2 0 — 2
Goals (assists) — Fort Collins: Ethan Nelson, 1st minute; Colton Zadkovic (Nelson), 9th minute; Drew Cronin (Jay Blythe, Greg Bilek), 23rd minute; Cronin (Nelson), 50th minute; Monarch: Sal Pisciola (Leo Felt, Conner Akerson), 19th minute; Brodie Wiener (Brendan Van Haute, Yuta Young), 25th minute.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Fort Collins: Billy Martin (51-2-22); Monarch: Reese Kelly (51-4-15).