Andrew Gleason (28) of Regis Jesuit was the only goal scorer on April 1, as his Raiders defeated Fort Collins 1-0 in Superior to win the CPHL Tier 1 championship. Photo by Steven Robinson, SportsEngine
The Regis Jesuit boys' hockey team had its sights set on winning the CHSAA Class 5A state championship this spring but the Raiders instead found themselves celebrating a different title.
Getting a shot at this season's CPHL Tier 1 championship following a mid-March exit from the CHSAA Class 5A Frozen Four, Regis Jesuit didn't waste its second chance at a prep hockey title.
The Raiders won three CPHL games in as many days, including a 1-0 triumph over Fort Collins last Thursday in the finale at the Sport Stable in Superior.
Regis Jesuit goaltender Gage Bussey had a 27-save shutout, helping the Raiders defeat Fort Collins 1-0 to clinch the CPHL Tier 1 championship on April 1. Photo by Steven Robinson, SportsEngine
"It was a goaltending battle," Woodley said. "[Winbourn's] glove hand was really good. He made saves. [Regis goaltender Gage Bussey] was tested with some breakaways."
Bussey eventually earned the championship-clinching shutout and finished the postseason having allowed just two goals in tournament play. Winbourn, meanwhile, finished with 31 saves.
"We love the way [Bussey] plays," Woodley said. "He's our backbone. It's nice to see him have the success he had."
Besides Bussey's stellar performance, Woodley said his team played better in the neutral zone, something that hadn't happened quite as much during the CHSAA season.
"Our neutral zone forecheck and coverage improved," Woodley said. "That stopped a lot of stretch passes and breakout opportunities. We also were outshooting teams more now."
Though Regis Jesuit won the game's shots-on-goal battle 32-27, the Raiders didn't find the scoresheet until more than three minutes into the third period, when forward Andrew Gleason found his way into the Fort Collins end on a penalty kill and scored the game's only goal.
Gleason had just three points in the CPHL regular season, making him an unlikely candidate to be the hero of the game. Overall, he matched his regular-season production in just three postseason games with a goal and two assists.
Woodley said he attributes the improvement to a switch in his team's lines.
"[Gleason, center Sean Holloway] and winger Carter Lutz really jelled quickly," Woodley said. "They played together in club hockey. Once they got back together they hit it off.
"They're all juniors and we look forward to see their performances next year."
Before next season, however, Regis Jesuit has to decide on its chance to play in the USA Hockey High School National Championships. By winning the CPHL crown, the Raiders earned a spot in the tournament.
Normally, the team that wins the CPHL tournament has months to prepare, but with the delayed start to the postseason Woodley's squad just has a matter of weeks as the tournament takes place April 15-19 in Omaha.
"We're in the process of figuring out if we have the roster that can do it," Woodley said. "We're trying to track down the players that can help us be competitive in this sort of tournament."
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