DENVER — After weeks of utterly obliterating opponents, the Monarch hockey team discovered itself on the wrong side of a championship-sized rout Friday night.
The Coyotes, who seemingly could do no wrong on the ice for the majority of the season, were humbled in a 5-1 whitewash at the hands of Ralston Valley in the state title game at Magness Arena.
“We gave it our best, but sometimes pucks don’t go your way,” Monarch forward Jake Christofferson said. “They just played better than us and they wanted it more.”
Both losses for Monarch (19-2-2) this season were against Ralston Valley, a Mustangs squad that broke through for its first championship after losing its three previous trips to the title game.
The Coyotes, though, had nothing to wallow in despair about after entering the season without a playoff victory in team annals. They won three this season — including a 5-2 elimination of defending-champion Regis Jesuit on Thursday night — and officially put Monarch hockey on the map.
“These guys are disappointed, but it’s obviously our best season since we’ve started,” Monarch coach Jimmy Dexter said. “I mean, I’m so proud of these guys. It would have been a lot better to be on the other side, but winning our first playoff games and making it to the (title game) makes me proud.”
Monarch started swiftly, as defenseman Alex Barber chipped a pass from Alex White off Ralston Valley defenseman Nick Wiemelt’s skate and past Mustangs goaltender Zach LaRocque for a power-play goal.
The 1-0 advantage didn’t last for long.
Ralston Valley (20-2-1) turned the Coyotes’ lone penalty of the night into its own power-play goal to make it 1-1 after one. Then the Mustangs thoroughly dominated the second period.
Rebound goals by Greg Dyba and Maes were sandwiched around a breakaway tally by Victor Lombardi, as the Mustangs blitzed Monarch 3-0 in the period. Maes and Lombardi finished the night with two goals and one assist apiece.
“It’s hard, but it’s the game of hockey,” Barber said. “A couple bad bounces here or there and they’re up 5-1.”
Monarch didn’t much enjoy playing the role of hex-breaker, but Ralston Valley had more to do with extinguishing its own championship demons than the Coyotes.
“I think we knew from early on that this group, there was just something special about them,” Ralston Valley coach Matt Schoepflin said.
Said Christofferson: “When it came down to it, they were winning the 50-50 battles.”Monarch loudly entrenched itself on the state’s hockey landscape by outscoring foes 125-41 this season. The Coyotes set team records in just about every category in their fourth season of operation.
The four departing seniors understand that any future successes for the Coyotes largely will be rooted to the 2012-13 group.
“It’s amazing to see how the team has come together,” Barber said. “We’re a family. In the locker room, there’s not one guy fighting with another guy. I’ve been on teams where a few guys don’t like each other and it ruins the whole team.
“But there’s not one guy on this team who’s not good buddies with the guy right next to him.”
Follow Paul Willis on Twitter: @PaulWillis21
Ralston Valley 5, Monarch 1
At Magness Arena
Monarch (19-2-2) 1 0 0 — 1
Ralston Valley (20-2-1) 1 3 1 — 5
First period: 1. Monarch: Barber (White), 8:58 (pp); 2. Ralston Valley: Maes (Dyba), 14:48 (pp).
Second period: 3. Ralston Valley: Dyba (Joly), 1:30; 4. Ralston Valley: Lombardi, 3:03; 5. Ralston Valley: Maes (Lombardi), 8:36.
Third period: 6. Ralston Valley: Lombardi (Maes), 4:11.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Monarch: Oden (51-4-11); Ralston Valley: LaRocque (51-1-11).