SUPERIOR — It wasn’t a victory, but the Monarch hockey team nonetheless proved that it is far more than a high-scoring offensive machine.
Having evolved into one of the top programs in the state behind a prolific scoring attack led by Jake Christofferson and Walker Harris, the Coyotes had to resort to grit and gumption in order to produce one of their most impressive results of the season on Monday.
Monarch twice rallied from deficits before spending much of the third period on its heels on the penalty kill, yet the Coyotes still were able to salvage a 3-3 draw against defending state champion Regis Jesuit.
The Coyotes (15-1-1) will remain among the Foothills Conference leaders going into their final two regular season games this weekend against Chatfield and Battle Mountain.
“This shows we can play with any team in the state, and it puts us in a good place going into these final two games,” Harris said. “We have to keep that energy up and go into the playoffs and see what happens.”
Monarch battled into a 3-3 tie going into the third period, but a slew of undisciplined penalties forced the Coyotes to play at least one man down for a total of 7 minutes, 51 seconds of the third period.
The penalty-killing began immediately out of the gate for Monarch in the third period, as Regis began the frame with a two-man advantage that lasted 1:11. The Coyotes killed that penalty, plus another in the middle of the period, before being forced to hold on while a man down for the final 4 minutes of regulation when Noah Zimmerman was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the heels of a tripping penalty.
After Regis notched its third goal on a power play chance, Monarch made a slight tactical adjustment to deny the Raiders back-door chances during their power-play sets. Coyotes coach Jimmy Dexter also said having the entire second intermission to prepare for the 5-on-3 disadvantage proved to be critical.
“Obviously we have to work on our discipline,” Dexter said. “When they scored that first power-play goal we talked to the guys about what they were running and we made some adjustments. The guys just buckled down. The guys showed a lot of character coming back. I’m so proud of the way that they worked and the way that they battled being short-handed.”
Regis registered goals by Logan Baca and Connor Wigton just 45 seconds apart in the first period, but Christofferson scored his 23rd goal of the season to bring Monarch within 2-1 at the first intermission.
Monarch pulled even on a goal by Jake Orsborn midway through the second, but Regis again surged ahead on a power-play tally by Wigton. Harris, though, answered just 15 seconds later to tie the game at 3-3.
The Coyotes salvaged the point down the stretch behind the strong work of their penalty killers and goalie Ian Oden, who finished with 25 saves.
“It was great work, but we knew they weren’t looking for that shot from the point. They were looking for that back-door pass,” Oden said. “Our players just didn’t let them have it. They were great in front of me. They only let a couple shots in after that power play goal that they had.”
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Monarch 3, Regis Jesuit 3
At Boulder Valley Ice Arena
Regis Jesuit (13-1-3) 2 1 0 0 — 3
Monarch (15-1-1) 1 2 0 0 — 3
Goals (assists) — Regis: Baca (Brennan, N. Haas), 5:42; Regis: Wigton (Hall, Engh), 6:27; Monarch: Christofferson (White, Orsborn) pp, 7:30; Monarch: Orsborn (Christofferson, Barber) pp, 26:13; Regis: Wigton (Quartuccio, N. Haas) pp, 29:19; Monarch: Harris (Christofferson, Gardner), 12:34.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Regis: Harden (56-3-20); Monarch: Oden (56-3-25).