Regis Jesuit players celebrate winning the CPHL Tier 2 title on April 1. The Raiders beat Mullen 5-4 in overtime in Littleton. Photo by Katie Hinkle, SportsEngine
Fans may have been emotionally exhausted after watching two improbable comebacks result in a stalemate following three periods of play on Thursday night at The Ice Ranch in Littleton.
Then Ian Beck of Regis Jesuit put an end to it.
Just 36 seconds into overtime, the Regis Jesuit forward sped toward the right corner of the net as part of a three-on-two breakaway. He earned the edge, then delivered a dagger past Mullen goaltender Kai Bigham into the top-left corner of the net.
Beck's momentum following the goal carried him into the boards, where his teammates mobbed him as they celebrated a 5-4 defeat of Mullen to claim this season's CPHL Tier 2 championship.
Hayden Klem dashes across the ice, trying to maintain possession of the puck with Luke Miller from Regis Jesuit challenging. Klem scored two goals in the Mustangs' 5-4 overtime defeat to the Raiders on April 1. Photo by Katie Hinkle, SportsEngine
The Mustangs continued to gallop, as Larry Simons tied the game with a put-back off a Klem shot nearly six minutes into the third period, and with 9 minutes, 34 seconds left in regulation Robby Witwer fit a cross-ice pass between three Regis Jesuit defenders, finding a slashing Klem for a backhand-to-forehand dangle. It was Klem's 30th goal, and 43rd point, in 13 games this CPHL season.
“[Klem] is a fantastic player. Our plan was to try and bump him as best we can, deny him the puck and basically challenge other players to beat us. But good players find ways to get the puck,” Ott said. "I was hoping he was going to run out of gas. It seemed like he was on the ice every other shift... It was like ‘holy cow [number] 29 is out there again.'"
Over the next four minutes, Mullen continued to control the game, requiring stellar glove saves from Miller to keep the deficit manageable. Much like with the Mustangs' comeback, however, momentum flipped with a penalty.
With 5:26 remaining, Mullen’s Nick Gilbert committed a tripping penalty and 58 seconds later another Mustang, Riley Watters, was sent to box on a controversial interference call. Officials conversed for nearly two minutes before upholding the call and Regis Jesuit was given a 5-on-3 advantage, which it didn’t waste.
Kamden Lai picked up a loose puck out front, following a deflected shot by Beck, hammering it home to tie the game at 4 with 3:46 to play, which set up Beck’s game-winning sequence in bonus time.
Miller finished with 30 saves for Regis Jesuit. Bigham stopped 16 shots for the Mustangs.
The loss was a tough finale for a Mullen team that's graduating 11 seniors from its team.
“They came into our program after a season when we went 1-19," Brady said. "So they believed in who we were. They believed in the school. Six years ago, when I took over the program, this opportunity was just something that wasn’t in the cards, so I give the seniors so much credit for believing in us, the program and executing. We talk about leaving the jersey in a better place and boy they’ve done that.”
It was the second championship game this Regis Jesuit squad had been a part of in less than a month, as the Raiders lost 1-0 in the CAHA JV State Championship to Cherry Creek on March 13.
“In my 16 years of coaching at Regis Jesuit, this is one of my best teams, whether it’s a varsity team or a JV team. They were supportive of one another, fought for one another… It was a joy to be their coach this year,” Ott said.
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