Regis seems equipped to de­fend state crown

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Kyle New­man

Regis Je­suit is, by all in­di­ca­tions, the best hockey team in the state.

The de­fend­ing cham­pion Raiders were ranked No. 1 in ev­ery pre­sea­son poll; re­turn key con­trib­u­tors in se­nior cen­ter Kyle Nel­son, ju­nior winger Con­nor Kilkenny and se­nior de­fense­man Cade Al­cock; and ap­pear primed to make a push for the pro­gram’s fifth ti­tle.

But the Raiders know first­hand noth­ing is guar­an­teed. Monarch was in the same sit­u­a­tion last sea­son — un­de­feated and at the top of the rank­ings all sea­son long be­fore Regis Je­suit shel­lacked the Coy­otes 6-1 in a cham­pi­onship stun­ner.

“We’re al­ready try­ing to talk about that as­pect of be­ing No. 1,” Regis Je­suit coach Dan Wood­ley said. “It’s a mat­ter of be­ing hum­ble in vic­tory and gra­cious in de­feat. If you play with that as your mind-set, you look at losses as learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and you look at wins as mo­ments that are build­ing to some­thing greater.

“So I hope that we’re able to de­velop that per­son­al­ity on this year’s team, be­cause we’re a strong team and ev­ery­one has us ranked No. 1, and it re­quires a lot of char­ac­ter to stay in that po­si­tion for a whole sea­son.”

The Raiders have jumped out to a 4-0 start this win­ter and are av­er­ag­ing more than six goals a game, while the de­fense has also looked solid, with three play­ers shar­ing time in net: se­niors Alec Martinez and Dil­lon Whalen and ju­nior Max Har­lan.

And ul­ti­mately, the Raiders’ prospects of a re­peat comes down to do­ing the lit­tle things right in prac­tices and games.

“We need to fo­cus on de­tails,” Wood­ley said. “And we’re a lit­tle in­ex­pe­ri­enced be­cause of the loss of so many of those se­niors who played in those cru­cial mo­ments last year. So, in close games, we’ve got to tighten up our play and keep our op­po­nents from get­ting good scor­ing chances.”

Regis Je­suit will face plenty of stiff com­pe­ti­tion in the reg­u­lar sea­son, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the new hockey re­align­ment that has split the state’s teams into four dif­fer­ent con­fer­ences, with the top-tier Foothills Con­fer­ence con­tain­ing the Raiders and all the other tra­di­tional pow­er­house pro­grams such as Monarch, Ralston Val­ley and Cherry Creek.

The Raiders’ next game is at Aspen on Fri­day.

Regis Je­suit will try to de­fend their state ti­tle this sea­son. The Raiders were ranked No. 1 in ev­ery pre­sea­son poll. Andy Cross, The Den­ver Post

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