CENTENNIAL — From the opening puck drop, it was clear that the winner of Saturday's battle of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams from the CHSAANow.com hockey poll was going to be the team that could capitalize first and get strong play from their goalie.
Monarch was able to check both boxes as they came away with the 3-0 win over Regis Jesuit which will keep them perched at the top of Monday's rankings.
"We'll take it, (Regis Jesuit) is playing really well," Coyotes coach Jimmy Dexter said. "I think we got some bounces, they got a couple of posts too, 3-0, I think it could've been closer than that."
And that's the way the game played out for nearly two full periods. Both teams were getting power play opportunities, only to fail to cover on them. With 3:40 left in the second period, Keegan Lewis went to the penalty box for Monarch (12-0 overall) on a hooking call, giving the Raiders the man advantage in the closing moments of the period.
That's when the pay dirt was found. Only, it wasn't found by Regis Jesuit (10-1).
Jake Young was able to tip a pass out of the zone and streak down the ice on a breakaway. He put the puck past Raiders goaltender Sam Gartner to give Monarch a 1-0 lead off a shorthanded goal.
"We just keep working hard and couldn't get anything going on the power play," Young said. "It was kind of lucky that I was able to get up on the wall and block that the way I did and got a breakaway."
The Coyotes came out in the second period looking to add to the lead and it only took five minutes for Young to find Adam Tybor in front of the net to increase the lead to 2-0. Young added an empty-net goal in the final minute to push the final to 3-0.
But two goals would be more than enough for Monarch goalie Hunter Ingino. The senior swatted away all 27 shots that he faced and only seemed to get stronger as the game went on.
"My confidence built throughout the game as we went on," Ingino said. "I got some shots, I stopped those breakaways. I was in the zone, it was just nice and easy most of the time."
The Coyotes have five games left on their schedule before the start of the postseason. They are looking to take the 2016 state championship after falling in last year's title game to Cherry Creek in a triple-overtime thriller.
Dexter knows that to get back to that point, he'll need more performances from Ingino like he got on Saturday.
"He keeps getting better and better," Dexter said of his goalie. "Hunter definitely kept us in it and a shutout against Regis is, I mean, he's the player of the game."
The Raiders knew they had a tough task ahead of them and despite the shutout loss, Dan Woodley was pleased with what he saw from his team.
He thinks they'll be ready the next time they step on the ice with the Coyotes.
"They are a good team, there's no question," Woodley said. "Their goalie played fantastic, he managed to stop our breakaways. We had four breakaways. He managed to stop them all. We had good opportunities and a bounce here and there and maybe it swings the other. I'm pleased with how we played."