AURORA | Skating with heavy hearts, the Regis Jesuit ice hockey team enters the state ice hockey postseason Friday after a first round bye.
While the Raiders open their quest to win a third straight state championship with a 1:15 p.m. contest against Mountain Vista at the Big Bear Ice Arena, their greater concern is off the ice with their head coach Dan Woodley, who lost his son, Cale — a former Raiders star player — in a tragic accident earlier this week.
Assistant coach Terry Ott takes over duties on the bench for Regis Jesuit as it attempts to win its opener and a 6:45 p.m. Quadrant 2 championship game on Saturday against either No. 4 Denver East or No. 20 Castle View for a spot in the Frozen Four. (Updated playoff scoreboard and schedule, here)
“The hockey program is rallying around our coach and his family, as is the entire community of Regis Jesuit, to provide support and hold them up in prayer,” the school said in a statement sent out via social media. “We are grateful for the outpouring of care and concern from the greater community.”
In hockey terms, Regis Jesuit (11-6-2) takes on a Mountain Vista team it swept in two Foothills Conference meetings during the regular season, including a 5-1 win in the season-opener Dec. 7 and 8-4 victory on Jan. 10. Senior defenseman Nolan Sargent had three assists in each contest plus a goal and Nicholas Bowers had a goal in each contest for the Raiders.
Regis Jesuit dropped its regular season finale to Ralston Valley (4-3), which came on the heels of a 1-0 win over No. 3-seeded Fort Collins on Feb. 21.
The Golden Eagles (9-8-3) have gained steamed with wins in their last two games of the regular season and a 6-1 win over Standley Lake in a first round game Feb. 26.
The other team with Aurora players — the 11th-seeded Cherry Creek co-op team — is also in action in the second round with a noon contest at the NoCo Ice Arena against sixth-seeded Heritage.
Cherry Creek held a moment of silence in honor of Woodley and his family prior to their opening round playoff contest against Rampart.
Coach Jeff Mielnicki’s Bruins, who lit up the scoreboard in an 11-1 win over the Rams in the opening round (a game that included hat tricks for Gavin Berkey and Riley Hunt-Bahn and four-assist efforts for Hunter Fieweger (Cherokee Trail) and Nicholas Hoppe (Grandview)), lost a 4-3 decision to the Eagles in the last week of the regular season.
A win over Heritage would send Cherry Creek into the Quadrant 3 championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at NoCo Ice Center against No. 3 Fort Collins or No. 14 Battle Mountain.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2020 STATE ICE HOCKEY PLAYOFF SECOND ROUND MATCHUPS
QUADRANT 1 (at The Ice Ranch)
No. 9 Monarch vs. No. 8 Pine Creek, 3 p.m.
No. 16 Kent Denver vs. No. 1 Valor Christian, 5:10 p.m.
QUADRANT 2 (at Big Bear Arena)
No. 12 Mountain Vista vs. NO. 5 REGIS JESUIT, 1:15 p.m.
No. 20 Castle View vs. No. 4 Denver East, 7:30 p.m.
QUADRANT 3 (at NoCo Ice Center)
NO. 11 CHERRY CREEK vs. No. 6 Heritage, noon
No. 14 Battle Mountain vs. No. 3 Fort Collins, 7:30 p.m.
QUADRANT 4 (at Family Sports Center)
No. 10 Ralston Valley vs. No. 7 Doherty, 5:40 p.m.
No. 15 Glenwood Springs vs. No. 2 Chaparral, 7:50 p.m.