Valor Christian's hockey team was virtually untested during the regular season . So when the seedings were announced for the state hockey playoffs, there were doubts about the Eagles' strength of …
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Valor Christian's hockey team was virtually untested during the regular season .
So when the seedings were announced for the state hockey playoffs, there were doubts about the Eagles' strength of schedule and their No. 3 seed.
Valor, however, shut out second-seeded Monarch 4-0 in the state semifinals on March 1 at the Pepsi Center in Denver and was scheduled to play top-seeded and undefeated Regis Jesuit in the March 6 state championship game.
During the regular season, the Eagles lost non-conference games to Regis and Monarch.
The closest regular season win was 3-2 over Cherry Creek and the Eagles had an 8.9-goal margin of victory heading into the playoffs.
Valor took a 20-2-0 record into the championship game. The Eagles won the Highlands Conference with a 16-0-0 record.
“I'm proud of our kids,” said coach George Gwozdecky, who is in his third season as Valor's hockey coach after 19 years as University of Denver coach. “The school made a commitment to hockey a few years ago. The kids have worked hard this season.
“We knew we were going to be a good team and we proved it in the fall league by winning the championship. If there was anything I would have liked to have during the winter season was more competition and not having a running clock half way through the game. We were winning by 8, 9 ,10 and 11 goals and that's isn't good for anybody, the winning or losing team.”
The Eagles avenged one of their two losses with the win over Monarch, a program that had played for the state championship the past four seasons, and had the opportunity to again challenge Regis, the defending state champs, in the title game.
Valor was seeking to win the school's first state hockey title.
Senior Tim DeBord scored a hat trick in the second period and goalie Trey Hirschfield made six of his 22 saves in the scoreless first period in the semifinal victory over the Coyotes.
Meanwhile, the Colorado High School Activities Association hockey committee on March 2 seemed to heed Gwozdecky's words when recommending league alignments for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. The committee changed the current four-conference alignment to six leagues of six teams.
Valor will be in the proposed Metro 1 conference with Regis, Mountain Vista, Castle View, Cherry Creek and Chaparral.
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