MONUMENT -- Senior night didn’t go exactly as planned for the Lewis-Palmer Rangers Friday night.
Entering the final game of the regular game, the No. 6 Rangers were looking to defend their home ice to take the Peak Conference title, which would give them a top seed in the upcoming state hockey tournament.
But the Mountain Vista Golden Eagles had other plans. The Highlands Ranch-based squad showed why they were worthy of a ranking three spots ahead of the Rangers by jumping out to an early lead and never looking back en route to a 5-1 win.
They got started early with a goal from defender Matt Adams less than two minutes into the game. Rangers goalie Marcus Smith tightened up for the rest of the period and after one, the Golden Eagles were ahead 1-0.
“I was looking to get off (the ice) and saw a rush coming,” Adams said. “Tanner (Gillis) dropped the puck back to me, I took the shot and it kind of rolled off my stick. As soon as I hit it I knew it was a good shot and then it was just kind of lucky going off the post and in. That set the precedent of how we wanted to start the game and from there we just rolled.”
Gillis increased the lead to 2-0 with 11:29 remaining in the second period, increasing the pressure significantly on the Rangers. They would finally get on the board after a power play goal from Dustin “D.J.” Jones. That goal would get the Rangers back in the game, but only for a short amount of time as the Golden Eagles would counter with a power play goal of their own -- and the second goal of the night for Adams -- with 1:30 left in the second period.
The Rangers were facing a tough two-goal deficit heading into the final period, but would start the first minute and 48 seconds of it with another power play opportunity.
But like much of the game, the power play didn’t goal as planned as Mountain Vista would score shorthanded. The Golden Eagles would tack on one more to bring the final score to 5-1, handing Lewis-Palmer only its second loss of the season and sewing up the division title and a No. 1 seed in the state tournament.
“All year long we’ve been winning games by big scores and I thought it was important for us to come in against a good team like Lewis-Palmer and kind of get into that playoff mode,” Golden Eagles head coach Lev Cohen said. “We had some guys injured; some guys missing and everybody stepped up and played a good game tonight.”
Goalie Joe Morgan was a wall for the Golden Eagles, batting away 17 of the 18 shots he faced with the power play goal the only one getting by him.
“He’s been a solid goalie all year. I’ve coached him for three or for years and he’s a competitor, he always comes to play,” Cohen said. “His goal is to play at a higher level and when the game matters he’s the one who steps up to the plate.”
Both teams will now turn their attention to the state tournament which is slated to begin next weekend.
With the win Friday, Mountain Vista locks up the top seed in the Peak Division and will face off against the No. 8 seed from the Foothills Division. Lewis Palmer will come into the tournament as the No. 2 seed from the Peak and will see action against the Foothills’ No. 7 seed.