Forty of the best high school hockey teams across the country converged upon Omaha, Nebraska, from April 15 to April 19 to compete for a national championship across three divisions of the 2021 Chipotle-USA Hockey High School National Championships. Three Colorado teams were among them and two advanced from pool play.
Valor Christian, which won the CHSAA Class 5A state championship this year, competed in Division I, which consisted of teams made up of players from one high school. The Eagles went 2-1 in pool play, including a 4-0 shutout victory over Utah state champion Park City and a 9-2 win over Glenelg (Md.). Ryder Price recorded a hat trick against Glenelg.
The showing advanced the Eagles to the quarterfinals where they were upended 4-2 by Santa Margarita (Calif.). According to the USA Hockey's tournament website, Price, Evan Pahos and Aiden Owen co-led Valor Christian with four points apiece throughout the tournament. Goaltender Jace Ruth saved 25 of 27 shots during pool play.
Photo submitted by Valor Christian.
Denver East reached the quarterfinals in Division II. Competing against teams made up of players from multiple schools, the Angels went 3-0 in pool play. In their opener, Timothy Costache scored the game-winning goal with just 90 seconds left in a 3-2 win over the Rushmore Thunder (S.D.). Denver East followed that performance with a 6-2 victory over Greenville (S.C.) and came back from a two-goal deficit in their third game to triumph 4-2 over Dayton Stealth (Ohio).
Denver East, however, fell 3-2 to eventual finalist Capristrano (Calif.) in overtime. Connor Hasse finished the tournament with a team-high eight points while Costache and Calvin Polon added seven points apiece.
Photo submitted by Denver East from Omaha, Nebraska.
The High Plains Hockey League Polar Bears didn't reach tournament play after facing what proved to be the toughest pool in the girls’ division. They beat Team Wyoming 8-2 in their third game after suffering setbacks to both eventual tournament finalists.
They gave eventual champion Premier Prep Forest (Minn.) its closest game of the tournament, losing 5-3, and the Polar Bears followed that with a 2-0 blemish to the Wisconsin Blackcats.
Photo submitted by the High Plains Hockey League Polar Bears, taken in 2019, which was the last time the team played together prior to last weekend's national championships.
The National Champions in the boys' divisions were Springfield High School (Mass.) in Division I, and the Omaha Junior Lancers (Neb.) in Division II following an overtime victory over Capistrano.
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