DENVER -- With the puck at the blue line, Ralston Valley's Greg Dyba dished it off to Austin Resseguie to his left and drifted into the offensive zone.
Resseguie retrieved the puck along the left boards and swiped a backhanded centering pass across the crease. All Dyba had to do was leave his stick on the ice.
He did. He scored. And regained a two-goal lead, as well as any momentum Monarch had stolen just 41 seconds earlier.
Dyba's goal came with 1:02 to play in the first period, and it ultimately proved to be back-breaking. His goal made it 3-1, and Ralston Valley locked things down defensively thereon.
The Mustangs added an empty-netter with 26 seconds to play, and captured their second-straight hockey championship with a 4-1 win over Monarch at the Denver Coliseum on Saturday.
"We've always kind of been -- throughout this year, when the other team gets one, we get one right back," Dyba said after the game. "So we kinda knew we had to get that and it would end up helping us in the long run."
Added Victor Lombardi, who scored two big first-period goals: "That allows you to get all that confidence back that you lost, and just be able to regain and your momentum."
This championship comes with an unblemished record -- 23-0-0. The Mustangs have now won their past 29 games dating back to last season and are 32-0-1 over their past 33.
"There are high expectations with this school and this team," Ralston Valley coach Matt Schoepflin said. "But that's OK. Because I think that we want to play games like this. You know, you want to be in these situations, you relish these situations.
"It's big for us and we're going to keep trying to build as strong a program as we can and every year give it the best go we can and see what happens. Definitely, back-to-back is pretty special."
Saturday started with a bit of a fiasco for the Mustangs. Starting goalie Zack LaRocque's skate blade snapped in half the moment he stepped on the ice for warmups.
He was replaced by backup James Madok minutes before the puck dropped, and then went to work on his skate with his dad and members of CHSAA's event team. It was the second time this week it had happened -- another blade broke in practice, forcing LaRocque to replace it.
"I knew I couldn't panic in a situation like that, so I just kept my calm," LaRocque said.
Madok played great for the game's first few minutes, and settled in once Ralston Valley grabbed a 1-0 lead on Lombardi's wrist-shot from low in the faceoff circle.
LaRocque returned with 8:38 to play in the first period after installing another new set of blades.
"We were laughing," Schoepflin said, "because last year we got to this point in the state semifinal game down at DU, and about 15 minutes before the game, Zack comes to us and says, 'Hey, I'm sick, I can't start.' So our backup goalie plays the state semifinal game last year. On our bench, we had a good joke, 'Hey, he always makes things interesting.'
"But at the same time, we had confidence in James," Schoepflin continued. "He's a senior this year, I think he played incredible, made some huge saves for us and definitely -- he was ready to go, too. And I think that speaks to our team as a whole, too, how we stayed ready and were able to get the job done tonight."
Said LaRocque, of joining the game in progress: "It was different. James, he played great when I was getting my stuff fixed."
Lombardi scored his second goal three minutes after LaRocque returned.
Monarch -- which was runner-up to Ralston Valley last year, too -- rallied when Dima Kyle deflected a shot in from the point with 1:42 to go in the period. At that moment, the game seemed to shift. The Coyotes had a huge goal in the period's final minutes, something that can often lead to a spark for the rest of the game.
But then Ralston Valley got an even bigger goal, even later in the period. And recaptured all the momentum Monarch had siezed.
"It was real big that we came right back and got that two-goal lead back," Schoepflin said. "They definitely had some momentum swings during the game and they played a great game. It was a big moment for us, too, but we stayed the course and found a way to win."
Lombardi, Ralston Valley's captain, finished with the two goals and also had two assists for a four-point night. Dyba also had two goals and two assists, while Resseguie assisted on three goals.