AURORA | Capsule preview of the 2023 Class 5A state ice hockey semifinal between Regis Jesuit and Valor Christian scheduled to be played on March 4, 2023, at World Arena:
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2023 CLASS 5A STATE ICE HOCKEY SEMIFINAL
NO. 4 REGIS JESUIT (9-6-3) VS. NO. 1 VALOR CHRISTIAN (18-1)
March 4, 4:30 p.m. at World Arena
BREAKDOWN: Regis Jesuit and Valor Christian square off in the Frozen Four of the state playoffs for the third time in the past four seasons and meet up in the postseason for the fourth time overall. The Raiders won the first playoff meeting in the 2017-18 season when they bested the Eagles in the state championship game, while Valor Christian earned semifinal victories over Regis Jesuit in 2020 and 2021 (when the tournament was just four teams due to the coronavirus pandemic. The teams meet for the third time this season with Valor Christian winning the previous two, 5-4 on Feb. 4 and 4-3 on Feb. 10. …Regis Jesuit won the first six games against Valor Christian and owns a 7-4-1 all-time advantage in the series since the teams played for the first time in the 2016-17 season. …Regis Jesuit sits alone in second place in the Colorado High School Activities Association recordbooks with six all-time state championships, which ranks only behind the 15 won by Cheyenne Mountain. Valor Christian is one of four programs currently with two titles to their credit.
REGIS JESUIT: The Raiders missed out on making the semifinals for the first time in the program’s existence last season as a quarterfinal loss snapped a 14-season streak, but they made it back this season in the first season under Terry Ott as head coach. Ott — an original assistant for the program — took over for former coach Dan Woodley, who retired after picking up his 300th career win last season. In the postseason, Regis Jesuit got a bye in the opening round and then earned a spot in the Frozen four with a dramatic 4-3 double-overtime win over fifth-seeded Monarch (story, here). Junior Nicolas Pineiro scored the game-winning goal for the Raiders, who also got two goals from senior Carter Schick and another from sophomore Nolan Williams. …For the season, senior Michael Manville leads the way for Regis Jesuit with 12 goals and Schick is next with nine (seven in the regular season and two in the postseason), while junior Ian Beck and sophomore Parker Brinner each have scored eight. Beck has notched 16 assists (including the feed that led to Pineiro’s winning goal in the quarterfinals) to give him two more than Manville for the team lead.
VALOR CHRISTIAN: Coach George Gwozdecky’s Eagles have worked their way to the cusp of making the state championship game for a fourth straight season. Valor Christian comes into the game on an 18-game winning streak, which comes on the heels of a 4-3 loss in overtime to Ralston Valley way back on Dec. 3, 2022, in the season opener. The Eagles had a first round bye and then won the most lopsided of the four quarterfinal contests with a 9-0 victory over No. 8 Standley Lake. Senior Alec Alfieri scored twice and seven other players had at least one goal, while senior Brooks Wright had three of Valor Christian’s 11 assists. …For the season, Aiden Owen has racked up 29 points in the regular season (8 goals, 21 assists) to lead the Eagles, who had a trio of double-digit goal scorers in Alfieri (who now has 13), Garrett Covney (11) and Noah Fekete (11) with Nicholas Maronna sitting at nine. Owen (21), Brooks Wright (14), Fekete (13), Alfieri (11) and Henry Barnes (11) and had double-digit assists. In the goal, Cooper Robinson (who had to make just nine saves in the quarterfinal win) boasts a 1.84 GAA for Valor Christian with a .910 save percentage.
WINNER GETS: The Regis Jesuit-Valor Christian winner gets a spot in the 5A state championship game scheduled for 8 p.m. March 7 at Magness Arena against the winner of the other semifinal between No. 3 Ralston Valley and No. 2 Denver East.