COLORADO SPRINGS — The last time that Valor Christian hockey took the ice, it was an entirely different world. Since the Eagles hoisted the 2020 state championship trophy, a thing or two has changed at the global level.
The level of hockey the Eagles are playing is consistent to those innocent early-march 2020 days.
Class 5A No. 2 Valor overcame a bit of a slow start to score five goals in the second period alone to get an impressive 7-2 win over No. 10 Doherty.
"Maybe (we started slow) because it was a mid-day game, we left school early and had an hour bus ride," forward Caleb Pallo said. "But the boys were super excited to get out there and play our first CHSAA game of the year."
Ryder Price gave the Eagles (1-0 overall) an early 1-0 lead after they peppered Doherty goalie Jeth Fogg with shots throughout the majority of the first period. The lead was short lived as Chase Chapman took advantage of a Valor puck handling miscue to score on a breakaway.
"One critical blunder," Valor coach George Gwozdecky said. "We didn't release properly on their top player and he just stretched out of the zone and he had 200 feet to carry the puck and get on the breakaway. I give them a lot of credit for executing and taking what we were giving them."
Less than two minutes into the second period, the Spartans (1-1) took the lead on a wrist shot. They gave up the lead when Price converted on a penalty shot.
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That's when the flood started.
Pallo scored the first of his two on Valor's first power play chance of the game as he connected on a perfect pass from Anders Glossinger. His second goal came off a shot that soared over the Doherty net and landed right in front him as he stared at a wide-open net.
That was the second goal the Eagles scored due to the puck being right in front of the net from a lucky bounce.
"The pucks were just sitting there," Pallo said. "I just happened to be at the right place at the right time and knocked them in. It helped the team out a little as well. We started flowing after that."
Seeing the pucks go in the net were a welcome sight for the Eagles. They won the state championship game scoring just a single goal because of the outstanding play of Fort Collins goalie Sam Simon.
As the Eagles built their lead over the Spartans at the Sertich Ice Hall, the confidence seemed to grow and the Eagles looked more settled on the ice than they had earlier in the game.
"It's one of those things where if you're the individual who scores, you seem to have an easier time," Gwozdecky said. "You feel lighter on your skates and you feel like you want to have the puck on your stick again."
He's hoping the feeling carries over to Friday night when the Eagles take on Regis Jesuit and its outstanding goalie, Gage Bussey.
This is the first loss of the season for Doherty, but the Spartans aim to rebound when they take on Pine Creek on Friday.