LOVELAND | Cherry Creek needed only half as many overtimes to win the state ice hockey championship than it needed to get there.
The Bruins — a co-op team of players from Cherry Creek and several Aurora high schools — survived a 6-overtime marathon in the semifinals to earn a spot in Saturday’s state title game against Monarch and had to go three extra frames for a 3-2 victory that secured the program’s first state championship since 1979.
After coach Jeff Mielnicki’s Cherry Creek team yielded a two-goal lead in the final minutes of regulation, Nick Chavez scored on an assist from semifinal hero C.J. Nitchen just 1:37 after an ice make to lift the Bruins to the title.
Nitchen scored the first goal and assisted on both of the others for Cherry Creek, which also got a goal from Sean DeKramer (Cherokee Trail), plus 34 saves from goaltender Brady Mielnicki.
The Cherry Creek program improved to 4-1 all-time in finals, having won in 1977, 1978 and 1979 before losing in the 1981 finale. The program went hiatus for two decades and now has won a state championship in its third season since its return.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
CHERRY CREEK 3, MONARCH 2 (3OT)
Score by periods:
Cherry Creek 0 1 1 0 0 1 — 3
Monarch 0 0 2 0 0 0 — 2
Second period: Cherry Creek — C.J. Nitchen, 16:20
Third period: Cherry Creek — Sean DeKramer (Nitchen), 5:31; Monarch — Mattijs Ossorio (power play) (Blake Bride, Andrew Pickner), 14:38; Monarch — Bride (power play) (Pickner, Adam Tybor), 14:55
Third overtime: Cherry Creek — Nick Chavez (Nitchen), 1:37
Goaltenders: Cherry Creek — Brady Mielnicki (36 shots on goal-34 saves); Monarch — Hampus Akesson (29 shots on goal-26 saves)