Cherry Creek's hockey program returned from a 24-year hiatus prior to last season. And the Bruins, not unexpectedly, won just two games.
Well, they've just won two games in two days of the state hockey playoffs. And now Cherry Creek is headed to the Frozen Four.
The Bruins Ryan Worley had two goals, Cody Oakes had two assists and Quinton Reynolds made 21 saves in a 5-2 win over Lewis-Palmer on Saturday evening. Mark Saxelby, Michael Dubus and Nick McWharter also scored for Cherry Creek.
"You know, we've been getting better every week," Cherry Creek coach Jeff Mielnicki said on Saturday night. "Our goal, initially, was to make the (playoffs). ... They've put in a lot of time and effort that, now, the rewards are there."
Lewis-Palmer twice had one-goal leads that were erased.
"Now's the time of year that it's about heart and will," Mielnicki said.
Lewis-Palmer led 1-0 after Zachary Williams' goal midway through the first period, but Saxelby scored with 1:03 to go in the period to even things up.
"It was perfect timing, because Lewis-Palmer came out heavy," Mielnicki said. "It felt like we won the period."
Nick Pavlik made it 2-1 Lewis-Palmer 4:47 into the second, and Worley scored an unassisted power play goal just over four minutes later to tie it up. Creek then opened the third with three-straight goals.
Cherry Creek has now won 17 games this season. The program has four state titles in its history, the last coming in 1981, prior to being shut down in 1988.
Cherry Creek will face defending champion Ralston Valley in the semifinals. Ralston Valley won an earlier meeting on Jan. 4, 3-0.
"I think they're the best team out there," Mielnicki said. "Our group has matured a lot, and we've learned from every game and made the adjustments. ... Come Friday, I can't predict the result, but I think it'll be very competitive."
Ralston Valley 4, Bishop Machebeuf 0. The defending champions have returned to the semifinals for the third year in a row.
Austin Resseguie had a pair of goals for Ralston Valley, which allowed just 17 shots. Zack Larocque had the shutout for the Mustangs. Greg Dyba and Kyle Valdez also scored for Ralston Valley.
Alan Rikli made 34 saves in net for Bishop Machebeuf.
Monarch 5, Columbine 2. The first period was scoreless. Their first goal was quickly answered. But Monarch is back in the Frozen Four for the second year in a row after scoring four of the game's final five goals on Saturday.
Monarch's Brett Kiyota opened the scoring at 8:15 of the second period with a short-handed tally, but Columbine's Logan Seibold answered on the power play just a minute-and-a-half later.
Then Cameron Taggart got an unassisted tally in the final minute of the second period, and Monarch exploded for three goals in the third in the 5-2 win. Andrew Pickner had two of those goals, Joey Buchan the other.
Columbine's Ashton Opperman made 35 saves in the losing effort. Logan Seibold had a goal and an assist.
Regis Jesuit 3, Mountain Vista 1. The Raiders scored two first-period goals which ultimately held up in the second-round win over the Golden Eagles.
Jack Jordan had two goals, and Jack O'Neil scored the other for Regis.
Tanner Gillis scored for Mountain Vista, but it came 12:12 into the third period and after the Golden Eagles already trailed 3-0.
Sam Harden stopped all 21 shots he faced for Regis Jesuit.