5A hockey semifinals: No. 1 Fort Collins and No. 3 Valor Christian advance to championship game

LOVELAND — Riley Laub thought he had the game winner with just under two minutes remaining in the game. It could have been, but a Chaparral goal with 20 seconds left on the clock just meant Fort Collins had to wait a little bit longer.

It took just 27 seconds into the third overtime as Nolan Williamson scored the game winner to give Class 5A No. 1 Fort Collins a 3-2 win over No. 4 Chaparral in the Frozen 4 at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland.

In a similar fashion to last year's state championship game, Fort Collins faced more shots than it would have like. But unlike last year's result, Sam Simon did just enough to allow the Lambkins to emerge victorious and advance to the 5A state championship game on Thursday.

"Looking back to last year, he set a state record and almost a national one for most saves in a game," Williamson said. "He had what, (48) saves again tonight. He stood on his head for us."

Aidan Beck broke the scoreless tie at 9:41 in the first period, getting a shot by Wolverines goalie Ryan Burke. But Chap answered right back as Landen Shay tied the game less than a minute later.

For the next two periods, a save-off between Burke and Simon kept the game locked in a 1-1 tie. Chaparral controlled the puck more consistently firing off 38 shots to the Lambkins 19 in regulation.

Laub snuck his last shot just by Burke's leg pad with just 1:19 on the clock, giving the Lambkins a one goal lead. With the way the goalies had played, it looked like a near certainty that Fort Collins would advance.

Blake Neil had other ideas as he slid right into the slot and fired a shot past Simon to tie the game again.

The first two overtimes yielded no goals and no winners, meaning a true intermission would take place before the teams would resume in a 4-on-4 situation.

"I knew this team could keep it together," he Williamson said. "Through all those overtimes we had it. We were just battling."

Williamson needed just 27 seconds of it as he buried the shot, putting the Lambkins in Thursday's championship game with just one thing on their mind.

"Win win win," Williamson said.

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

(3) Regis Jesuit 3, (2) Regis Jesuit 2 (OT)

Owen Walsh got Valor on the board early but Dylan Thompson's equalizer late in the first set the tone as Regis Jesuit got the 2-1 win to advance to Friday's championship game.

A power play goal from Robbie Dembeck put the Raiders ahead, even as Valor pressed offensively to lead the Raiders in shots 22-17 after two periods.

And with the way the Eagles were attacking, it was only a matter of time before they tied the game back up. Walsh scored his second goal of the game with just over five minutes remaining to push the game to overtime.

It was just 55 seconds in that Evan Pahos found the back of the net, setting up a rematch with Fort Collins. It was Pahos who finally got the puck by Simon in last year's state title game.

This is the third state championship appearance for the Eagles and they are 1-1 in those two games.

The Eagles and Lambkins will face off Thursday at 8:30 p.m.

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)