DENVER — A second-period spurt helped Regis Jesuit seize control of hockey's state title game on Monday. It led to a two-goal lead — and, ultimately, a second-straight championship.
The Raiders scored two goals 11 seconds apart in the second period to go up 3-1. It was the spark Regis needed, and they clamped down in the third with two more goals to secure a 5-2 victory in front of 4,039 fans at Pepsi Center.
"That was a big pop for us," said Regis Jesuit coach Dan Woodley.
Colin Walsh score twice for Regis Jesuit, including an all-important tying goal after Dakota Ridge had gone up 1-0 and seized the momentum in the first period. He added a power play goal in the third period following a great cross-crease pass from Mac Padilla that made it 5-2.
Going into the second period, with the game tied at 1, Regis Jesuit made adjustments to deal with Dakota Ridge's prolific top line.
Said Regis captain Kale Lone: "I can tell you our coach figured them out. ... We went into that first intermission and he gave us a good talk in the locker room, and we came back with a plan."
"That's a really strong team," Woodley said. "Their top line has to be the best in the state. Those boys could handle the puck, and they're a threat every time they're up-ice, and they definitely made us be on our heels in the first period.
"We had to turn that around," he added. "We said, 'Look the way you play those guys is you don't wait until they're on a rush and try to defend them, you make them play defense until they're too tired.' So we started cycling the puck and trying to take it to the net less, and the result was it created more offense.
"The truth of the matter is that I think we won the game because we kept it below their goal line longer than they did. We simply cycled them to death."
The Raiders out-shot Dakota Ridge 18-4 in that period.
Six-and-a-half minutes into the second, Regis Jesuit's Sergio Padilla scored from just below the right faceoff dot. 11 seconds later, Luke Dosen made it 3-1 Regis.
"They're a great team, one of the best in the state, but that's just devastating to a team, two goals in a row," Dosen said.
Dakota Ridge got an important goal before the end of the second, from Parker Spaan, which made it 3-2 going to the third.
In that period, the experienced Raiders put their foot down.
Just 2:07 into the frame, Nicholas Schultz found the top left corner on a nice wrist shot to make it 4-2. Four minutes later, it was 5-2 following Walsh's tally.
Afterward, the Raiders pointed to their experience of learning how to play in tight games during the season.
"We used to being in close games," Lone said. "We were expecting a good game, and that's exactly what we got."
Said Woodley: "When we had a one-goal lead, we felt very comfortable coming out and playing as hard as possible."
This is Regis Jesuit's third championship in the past four seasons, and their sixth overall. All of the titles have come since 2008, a remarkable run of success.
The Raiders end the season at 22-1-0, and have won 45 of 46 games dating back to last season.
"We had so far to go at the start of this year, and this group came to practice every single day and applied themselves to the principles that we really teach at Regis Jesuit, not only in the classroom, but on the ice — and that's to give your best," Woodley said. "If something's worth doing, it's worth doing the best you can. This group came out and worked and worked and worked and really got the result for it."
Dakota Ridge finishes its great season, capped by a first-ever appearance in a state title game, at 15-6-2.