Ice Hockey

ENGLEWOOD | While Regis Jesuit hockey coach Dan Woodley wasn’t entirely pleased with his team’s performance in Saturday’s victory over Cherry Creek, he marveled at one of its biggest plays. Just 17 seconds after the Raiders took an early lead over the Bruins at Family Sports Center, they doubled it with a perfectly executed breakaway goal by junior forward Nicholas Schultz that put them the driver’s seat on their way to a 3-0 victory.

Another fantastic year of prep sports took place around Aurora in 2017, which was highlighted by a sweep of the Class 5A boys and girls state basketball championships. Here are some of the finest moments from the first half of a year that saw a combined 18 state championships plus 28 runner-up finishes for Aurora prep teams and individuals:

HIGHLANDS RANCH | Rabid hockey fans wedged their way into every nook and cranny possible at the Ice Ranch Saturday night to get a glimpse of the most anticipated matchup of the young prep ice hockey season. Regis Jesuit and Valor Christian — who both came into the game undefeated — made every cramped moment worth it for those in attendance, with the Raiders prevailing 2-1 in a feisty, physical contest.

DENVER | One year later, the Regis Jesuit ice hockey team got to experience the exact opposite of the feeling they had last season in winning the state ice championship. The Raiders let a 1-0 lead in the second period on a goal by Wyatt Verity, but coach Dan Woodley’s team yielded a pair of power play goals in the third period Monday night in a 2-1 loss to Monarch in the state final at Magness Arena.

DENVER | For the second year in a row, the state ice hockey championship comes down to Regis Jesuit and Monarch. The Raiders and Coyotes — each longtime state powers — squared off for last season’s state title (won by Regis Jesuit 6-1) and drop the puck again with the state title on the line at 7 p.m. Monday at Magness Arena on the University of Denver campus.

More teams, new conference creation and realignment and a playoff field expanded by eight teams combined to make the 2016-17 ice hockey season significantly more interesting than those past, but not much has changed at the back end of it all. Powers in the Foothills Conference such as Regis Jesuit, the Cherry Creek co-op team and Monarch have dominated the postseason for quite some time and those three programs made it through all the differences to appear in the Frozen Four again this season.