LOVELAND — This time, it wasn't going to take five overtimes. Valor Christian found a more efficient way to get around Sam Simon and because of that, the Eagles are hockey champions once again.
Ryan Kayser scored twice, but it was Jameson Charles with a laser that got by Simon with 2:36 remaining in the third period to give Valor a 4-3 win over Fort Collins in the Class 5A hockey state championship game.
"I'm proud of these guys," coach George Gwozdecky said. "Anytime you can win your last game of the season, it's a heck of an accomplishment. Considering they're defending a championship, that's even tougher to do."
Defending the title put a lot of pressure on the Eagles. Heading in, they were aware of the capabilities of Simon. They were fortunate a year ago that one goal did the trick, but at no point did they think that'd be the case in this rematch at the Budweiser Events Center.
"One hundred percent," Kayser said. "We knew it wasn't going to be just one. It was going to take four, five, six. We wanted to do whatever it took."
Neither team found a scoring foothold in the first period and it was Aidan Beck breaking the scoreless tie, tipping the puck by Jace Ruth early in the second.
"That top line of theirs is really dynamic," Gwozdecky said. "If we were going to give ourselves a chance, we had to shut them down and we didn't do a very good job of that."
But they were able to keep pace. The Eagles scored back to back goals as Kayser got his first and Pahos put the Eagles up 2-1 before Beck netted his second to tie the game after two periods.
A power play goal from Kayser put the Eagles back on top before Dennis White pulled the Lambkins even once again.
After an apparent goal got waved off, the Eagles moved with a bit more urgency and that's when Charles fired a laser that got by Simon, sending the Valor fans into a frenzy.
"I thought mine was going to get called off, so I didn't get too excited," he said. "Our momentum was getting that goal back that we lost."
They got it back and they didn't give it up.
It's the second straight championship win for Valor as they beat Fort Collins 1-0 in the final CHSAA unclassified championship game a year ago.
That game took five overtimes before Pahos broke the scoreless tie.
The Eagles were able to put 40 shots on the net through the course of the game, far fewer than the 80-plus they put on Simon last year. But this year just yielded better results.
To their credit, the Lambkins were more efficient offensively than they were a year ago as they put 19 shots on net, getting three of them past Ruth.