LOUISVILLE — A few weeks ago, things were going unusually poorly for the perennially state-contending Monarch hockey team.
A few weeks ago, senior Brendan Van Haute wasn't the program's all-time leading scorer either. But over the past few weeks, a lot has changed for both Van Haute and the Coyotes.
During a one-sided win over Valor Christian on Friday, Van Haute assisted on four of the Coyotes' six goals and in doing so became the program's all-time points leader. With 25 points on the season, the Coyotes senior now has 50 goals and 74 assists in his career and solidifies himself and one of the storied program's top players just as the team begins to turn things around.
"Obviously, it's very cool and it's something to be proud of," said Van Haute, who attends Boulder High. "But I couldn't have gotten there without the guys I've played with over the years. I've played with some incredible hockey players and they have all helped me along the way."
Having appeared in the last four state title games and nearly going undefeated last season, the Coyotes graduated 17 seniors in the spring. The 2016-17 season didn't start as ostentatiously as usual for the Coyotes, but has since improved with victories over Valor Christian and Cherry Creek, which are ranked sixth and second, respectively, in the CHSAANow.com poll.
Van Haute has also picked up the pace, amassing 25 points on the season. Doing so more with his passing ability than his goal-scoring, his success has helped pace the Coyotes offense to average 5.5 goals per game in its last two game contests against ranked opponents.
"I've always been a passer and not the typical sniper that you might see," Van Haute said. "I love to find my teammates and they typically put it the net. We had a huge weekend last weekend and everything is starting to click now. We just need to keep the momentum going. Three weeks ago or so it wasn't really clicking but we knew not to panic and we've done a great job of learning and improving.
"It's a great program to play for and every year and we have a great team again this year. I think we have a great area for hockey and our goal is always to win the whole thing so I don't think Monarch will ever really have a down year."
With a pair of victories over top-10 opponents, and Van Haute's ascension to the top of the Monarch record books with 124 career points, things are starting to look up for the Coyotes.
"I think the biggest thing is that we're really starting to work a lot harder," Coyotes head coach Jimmy Dexter said. "Our forecheck and our backcheck and our physical play have picked up significantly. With losing the number of guys that we did last year, it's taken a while to get these guys on the right page but we're starting to click now."
Brad Cochi: firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BradCochi