The 2021 CHSAA hockey season was abbreviated due to COVID-19 concerns. Denver East coach John Kopperud never imagined his team's season could possibly come down to 90 seconds.
That’s the amount of time (83 seconds, actually) that it took Regis Jesuit to take a 2-0 lead in a key Class 5A, Metro Conference clash with the Angels on Feb. 10. The Raiders went on to a 4-1 victory, leaving Denver East with no margin for error and needing help to stay in contention for a playoff position.
Only four teams from each class make the playoffs this season, the three conference champions and one at-large selection made based on record and strength of schedule. The loss to Regis Jesuit made it improbable that the Angels could win the Metro.
The teams meet again Friday in a game that could mean little more than consolation to the No. 7-5A Angels, who defeated No. 6-5A Cherry Creek 6-0 on Wednesday night in a make-or-break game for both teams, as they trail No. 1-5A Regis Jesuit.
“Their first four shots, three went in,” Kopperud said. “And none of them were great scoring chances. … Regis is a really good team, and they made their opportunities count.”
Ethan James, who has a 2.50 GAA, played just 10 minutes against the Raiders. Kopperud placed blame on all the players on the ice but said James would admit the shots he let in wouldn’t normally get past him.
“It’s tough,” Kopperud said. “But we knew how important [the game] was and we thought we would be prepared for it but we weren’t. What do you do?”
For now, the Angels (4-1) keep playing hard and hoping for what might seem like the impossible: another team to step up and knock off the powerful Raiders (4-0).