DENVER — It took the Monarch hockey team five consecutive tries in the state title game to finally win a Colorado state championship last winter.
The defending state champions aren't going to get a sixth in 2018.
Playing in their sixth straight Frozen Four on Thursday night at Pepsi Center, the No. 2-seeded Coyotes fell 4-0 to the No. 3 Valor Christian Eagles. For the first time in any current player's prep career, the Monarch won't play for a state championship.
"I thought we came out flying in the first five minutes of the game and had some chances," Monarch head coach Jimmy Dexter said. "But (goaltender Trey) Hirschfield played really well, kept us off the scoreboard. It just wasn't our night. Even when we pulled the goalie and had six on five, we had so many opportunities and we couldn't bury one."
"They're a great team, they played phenomenal and it was definitely their night tonight."
Valor Christian's Tim Debord scored unassisted early in the second period to put the Eagles (20-2) ahead. With 5 minutes, 21 second left in the second period, Debord scored again to put the Coyotes (19-3) in a 2-0 hole. The senior completed the hat trick with his third goal with 1:06 left in the period. The Eagles outshot the Coyotes 26-22 and put the game definitely out of reach with an empty-net goal with 1:37 left in the third period.
While Tuesday's loss will hurt for a while, the season is far from over for the Coyotes. Along with Regis Jesuit and Valor Christian, the Coyotes will play in the USA Hockey National Championships in Plymouth, Minn. in three weeks.
"That's awesome for us," Dexter said. "With this loss, the kids are obviously crushed. But we're really looking forward to that tournament."
Had the Coyotes won on Thursday night and reached their sixth straight championship game, they would have set a record for consecutive title game appearances. Though they fell short, the Coyotes left an impression on Valor Christian head coach George Gwozdecky.
"They're a good offensive team," Gwozdecky said. "You give them opportunities, and they're going to bury a lot of them. Akerson and Felt and Carvalho — they've got some really top-end players that can generate offense if you give them a chance."
The Eagles, who lost 6-3 to the Coyotes during the regular season on Feb. 10, will play No. 1 Regis Jesuit in the championship game on Tuesday night.
Valor Christian 4, Monarch 0
At Pepsi CenterValor Christian 1 3 — 4
Monarch 0 0 — 0
Goals — VC: DeBord 3, Carlson.
Assists — VC: Orsmond, Chambers, Blisard, Wheeler, Lonneman.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — VC: Trey Hirschfield (51-0-22); Monarch: Reese Kelly (51-4-22).