CENTENNIAL — On Jan. 27, the defending state champion Monarch hockey team lost to Regis Jesuit in the first of two regular-season rematches of the past two state title games.
After the Coyotes were dealt their first loss of the 2017-18 season in that game, Monarch's Leo Felt noted that this is the time of year during which all state title contenders need to be elevating their games.
Unfortunately for the Coyotes, they weren't able to level up the second time they faced Regis Jesuit this season and received their second loss of the season in a frustratingly similar game against the Raiders on Friday night.
On the road at Family Sports Ice Arena, the No. 2-ranked Coyotes fell 5-2 to the No. 1 Raiders after a slow start once again proved to be their downfall against the emerging favorite to win this year's state title.
"We've spotted them four goals in both games," Monarch head coach Jimmy Dexter said. "We've just come out flat in the first period and they've been much better than us. We've got to find a way to play three periods against Regis because there's no way we're beating them if we don't, they're too good. They're strong, they're deep and for us to come out flat and let them jump all over us is never going to work."
The undefeated Raiders (17-0, 13-0 Foothills) locked up the Foothills League with Thursday's win over the second-place Coyotes (14-2, 10-2 Foothills). Buoyed by a raucous student section, the home team opened the scoring with a goal from Connor Kilkenny just 38 seconds into the game and pulled ahead 2-0 on Kilkenny's second just over nine minutes in.
Monarch's Liam Carvalho put the Coyotes on the board with a goal in the 11th minute. Four minutes later, however, a Monarch penalty led to a powerplay and Kilkenny's third goal of the night. With 44 seconds left in the first period, Shane Ott scored to give the Raiders a 4-1 lead to start the second.
"One goal was a bad bounce but even when we got back into it at 2-1, we take a stupid penalty and they go back up 3-1," Dexter said. "It's a lot of discipline and we've got to find a way to play three periods of hockey, especially against these guys. You can't take a shift off because they'll make you pay."
The Coyotes also trailed 4-1 in their first game against Regis Jesuit before a furious comeback bid eventually ended in a 4-3 loss. Monarch's Leo Felt, who leads the team with 18 goals, tried to start a comeback with a goal in the second period but the Coyotes couldn't manage any more scoring while the Raiders tacked on a fifth goal in the third.
The Coyotes will have another tough road game when they play No. 3-ranked and Highlands Conference-leading Valor Christian (16-1, 15-0 Highlands) on Saturday night.
Regis Jesuit 5, Monarch 2
At Family Sports Ice ArenaMonarch (14-2, 10-2) 110—2
Regis Jesuit (17-0, 13-0) 401—5
Goals (assists) — Monarch: Liam Carvalho, first period, 5:09; Leo Felt (Yuta Young), second period, 11:00; Regis Jesuit: Connor Kilkenny (Nolan Sargent), first period, 16:22; Kilkenny (Kale Lone, Justin Lico), first period, 9:49; Kilkenny (Sargent, Lico), first period, 1:59; Shane Ott (Paxton Erickson), first period, 0:44; Sargent (Kilkenny), third period, 12:08.