The Monarch Coyotes will welcome many new hockey players to the varsity level after graduating a big senior class from the 2018-19 season.
For the new players, they have practiced and seen the culture of success firsthand, from consistent postseason appearances in the high school season to winning in the club season just before the winter season begins. In addition to that success, Monarch won a divisional national championship in Cleveland at the Chipotle USA Hockey National High School Championships with a 7-1 win over Burrell, Penn., in the championship final last spring.
“That national championship was definitely unexpected,” Monarch coach Jimmy Dexter said. “Some of the guys who were on the team are returners and I think they will have a good year this year.”
One of the key players back for Monarch is defenseman Fuller Loose, who brings back five goals and 18 assists from last year. He will serve as one of the captains for the Coyotes this season, and one of his responsibilities will be to keep the puck in the offensive zone and allow Monarch to play its style of hockey to work deep in the zone and create scoring chances all over the zone.
“I think we have to keep it simple,” Loose said. “We have to get pucks deep and communicate. As long as we do that, we’ll be able to keep the puck where we are best at and get some goals so we can win some big games.”
The new players have stepped in and have seen more time on the ice together during the club season in the fall with Loose and some of the other returners. And now, they feel ready to step in together keep the winning tradition alive at MoHi.
“I have a really good group of kids,” Dexter said. “I think we’ll be right there and are definitely a top-five team.”
Others feel the same about the expectations as they will begin the season ranked No. 5 in the CHSAA preseason polls.
The Coyotes won the Pinnacle Ice conference title with an 8-1-1 record in league play, but the nonconference schedule with some of the other top teams proved to be a challenge. Regis Jesuit, who won the state championship last year, and Valor Christian, a new rival to be true, remain on the slate and will once again be tough challenges to overcome.
“When we play them, we have to play our best game,” Dexter said. “We have to be disciplined and play really well to beat them. That means everyone on the team, we can’t just have 10 guys that want it. Everyone that is dressed that day has to want it.”
Other teams Dexter has his eyes on the schedule this year include Fort Collins, a league opponent that knocked them out of the club season and who may have one of the state’s top goaltenders, and Cherry Creek, who also made it to the quarterfinals in the state tournament.
Behind Loose will be perhaps the biggest wildcards on the team with junior goalies J.T. Harland and Nicholas Chan. The two saw their first full-time action in the spring and have made huge improvements in that short span. If their play continues, Loose feels it will make them even more dangerous this year.
“I think the goalies have been doing the most improvement with our team,” Loose said. “We got a goalie coach a couple weeks into the season and they have been sticking to what they’ve been told. They have played great during the season and are a big key for us in these games.”
Monarch will look to get some early momentum on the season before a critical five-game stretch that starts Dec. 21 with the first game against Valor Christian before winter break. When the team returns, the next four games include Cherry Creek, Ralston Valley, Fort Collins and Regis Jesuit.
Monarch season schedule
Dec. 6 @ Standley Lake 3 p.m. (Promenade)
Dec. 12 @ Mountain Vista 7:30 p.m. (SS)
Dec. 14 @ Resurrection Christian 8:30 p.m. (NOCO)
Dec. 16 @ Dakota Ridge 2:30 p.m. (Edge)
Dec. 21 @ Valor Christian 6:30 p.m. (Ice Ranch)
Jan. 4 vs. Cherry Creek 8:40 p.m. (Sports Stable)
Jan. 10 @ Ralston Valley 6:30 p.m. (Apex)
Jan. 11 vs. Fort Collins 8:40 p.m. (Sports Stable)
Jan. 17 @ Regis Jesuit 5:40 p.m. (FSC)
Jan. 18 vs. Resurrection Christian 8:40 p.m. (Sports Stable)
Jan. 24 vs. Mountain Vista 8 p.m. (Sports Stable)
Jan. 25 vs. Regis Jesuit 8:40 p.m. (Sports Stable)
Jan. 31 @ Fort Collins 8:30 p.m. (NOCO)
Feb. 1 vs. Ralston Valley 8:40 p.m. (Sports Stable)
Feb. 3 vs. Dakota Ridge 2 p.m. (Sports Stable)
Feb. 13 vs. Standley Lake 2 p.m. (Sports Stable)
Feb. 15 vs. Heritage 8:40 p.m. (Sports Stable)
Feb. 21 @ Cherry Creek 7:50 p.m. (FSC)
Feb. 22 vs. Valor Christian 8:40 p.m. (Sports Stable)