Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer
SUPERIOR – Not qualifying for the Colorado prep hockey postseason as one of the top eight seeds, where they have grown accustomed to being, the Monarch Coyotes feel as though they have something to prove.
Playing on their home ice at Sport Stable on Tuesday night, the ninth-seeded Coyotes made quick work of the No. 24 Mullen Mustangs with a 5-0 victory that sent them on to the next round. Despite a slow start to the game, the Coyotes eventually found the level of play they expect from themselves and that’s good news.
Things will get quite a bit harder when the Coyotes travel to face No. 8 Pine Creek in the second round at The Ice Ranch on Friday.
“I think we underestimated Mullen a little bit,” Monarch senior Fuller Loose said. “We played them earlier in the season and we beat them pretty by a lot but they were a lot tougher tonight. But we got going there in the second and third. We wanted to get (a top-eight seed) but this was a good marker for us because if we come out slow in the bigger games, we’re going to get beat.”
Monarch (12-6-2) outshot Mullen (7-12), 15-2, in the first period but didn’t find the back of the net until Fuller Loose scored the first ice-breaking goal with 9 minutes, 59 seconds left in the second. The Coyotes scored again with 2:51 left in the second period, this time with Sam Zis notching a score.
Zis scored again 26 seconds into the third period, and Drew Fehr added a fourth Monarch goal with 11:16 left in the game before Zach Jensen tacked on a fifth with 6:05 remaining. Overall in the game, Monarch put 49 shots on goal compared to 10 for the Mustangs, who were carried by a 44-save effort from goaltender Connor Mahon.
“Their goalie played well and their whole team was a lot better than I thought they were going to be,” Monarch head coach Jimmy Dexter said. “Our guys just woke up in the second and third. They understand that this is do-or-die and we were a little flat in the first. We got a chance to talk to them at the break and they definitely responded in that second period.”
Tuesday’s win was the Coyotes’ fourth shutout of the season.
The Coyotes played in four straight state title games before finally winning the state championship in 2017, reached the Frozen Four in 2018 and the quarterfinals last winter.