LITTLETON — The Monarch hockey team has had a rocky season but head coach Jimmy Dexter said there has been one constant that has kept the Coyotes on course, and they certainly wouldn't be where they are now without it.
Or rather, him.
That constant has been Dylan Sheets, and the senior goaltender was the rock than anchored the Coyotes once again when they made their playoff debut at The Ice Ranch on Friday night. Sheets made 41 saves while the No. 7-seed Coyotes steadily built their lead on the way to a 4-1 second-round win over No. 10 Heritage.
"I thought I played pretty well but I think I could have had that one goal on me," Sheets said. "I'm excited about where we are and how we're playing right now. If we just keep playing well, we should be in good shape."
The Coyotes (11-7-2) had plenty of incentive to construct a fast start on Friday night.
Heritage (13-7-1) reached the second round of last year's state playoffs and had won 5-1 over No. 23 Cheyenne Mountain in the first round on Tuesday. During the regular season, Monarch and Heritage played to a 4-4 tie on Jan. 17.
Winners of their final three regular-season games and coming off a first-round bye, the Coyotes were boosted early by a pair of goals from Alex Scatena and Andrew Kim that gave them a 2-0 lead in the game's first 15 minutes.
"It was definitely huge to go two goals up," Sheets said. "It was hard to watch our team tie them in the regular season so it felt great to come out here and have the team play well and have a lot of fun."
Leading 2-0 in the second period, Scatena added a second goal and now leads the Coyotes with 12 on the season. Trailing 3-0, Heritage got on the board in the 34th minute courtesy of a goal by Bradley Stewart. With the Eagles beginning to threaten the Coyotes lead, Caleb Guo scored an empty-net goal in the 49th minute to put the game out of reach.
Jake Given and Zach Given now lead the Coyotes, who were state champions in 2017, with 22 points apiece.
Monarch moves on to play No. 2 seed Valor Christian -- 6-0 winners Friday night over Ralston Valley -- in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Monarch has lost its past three meetings against Valor Christian, including a season-ending defeat at the Eagles' hands in the Frozen Four last winter.
"We've got to do a better job of moving the puck better," Dexter said. "I think we were a little nervous at the beginning. If we can clean things up a little bit and limit the turnovers, I think we'll give ourselves a chance."
Monarch 4, Heritage 1
At The Ice RanchHeritage (13-7-1) 0 1 0 — 1
Goals (assists) — Heritage: Bradley Stewart (Joey Pontiff), 34th minute; Monarch: Alex Scatena (Zack Given), 14th minute; Andrew Kim (Cooper Zurn), 15th; Scatena (Given, Caleb Gold), 31st; Caleb Guo (empty net), 49th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Heritage: James Purse (51-3-19); Monarch: Dylan Sheets (51-1-41).