Regis seems equipped to defend state crown
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