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High School Notebook: Colorado Rivals Bask in National Titles

By Jason L. Young - Special to USAHockey.com, 03/24/15, 10:45AM MDT

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Regis Jesuit and Cherry Creek are just 17 minutes apart and both won national titles.

CHESTERFIELD, MO. -- If a state park didn’t separate the two high school hockey programs, little else would.

Regis Jesuit and Cherry Creek, both from the southeastern suburbs of Denver, won their respective divisions Monday at the Toyota-USA Hockey High School National Championships. It marked the second national title for Regis and capped a remarkable season that included a state championship for Cherry Creek.

“We’re actually proud of those guys from Cherry Creek,” Regis coach Dan Woodley said. “Our schools are just a few miles apart, and they are only a third-year team in our league and they battled really hard and had a fantastic run in the state playoffs. So, we’re really proud of Colorado high school hockey right now.”

Regis, the last team to defeat Cherry Creek, won the Pure Division with a 3-1 victory over Santa Margarita (California). Its neighboring rivals took the inaugural Combined Division title with a 2-1 win against Dubuque (Iowa).

It takes about 17 minutes to drive from one campus to the other only because Cherry Creek State Park buffers the two schools. Both play in the Foothills Conference. Both are established state powers, even though Cherry Creek has only had a program for the past three years after a 25-year hiatus. Both are national champions.

The public school took a break from hockey starting in 1986 because the district was unhappy with the physicality that was taking hold of the sport. After winning two games in its first season back in 2012-13, Cherry Creek made the state semifinals last year before winning the title. Though hosted by the district’s namesake high school, any student in the district can try out for the team.  

Regis, a three-time state champion and the 2012 national champions, draws players only from its school. It suffered a shocking loss in the state semifinals before rebounding to win the national crown.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of pride knowing that there’s a lot of great players in our state,” said Cherry Creek senior goalie Brady Mielnicki.

Four-Warned

The high school national championship implemented a four-official system rather than the traditional three this season. The four-official system is used at several other high levels of youth hockey and at the professional level. Officials wanted to see how it would translate at the high school age group.

“The reason in this tournament we are using it is we want to see what we’re doing this year opposed to years gone by and see if the penalties are lower, if there’s more penalties, more severe penalties, less severe penalties,” said Steve Stevens, referee-in-chief for the Pacific District.

USA Hockey plans to analyze the statistics during the next few weeks and determine the benefits — or lack thereof — and make a recommendation about whether having another body on the ice watching the play makes games safer. The system has been used sporadically at the midget and bantam levels at some tournaments and in some areas, but not at the national level.

Stevens said it’s important to make an informed decision rather than assuming an extra pair of eyes cuts down on behind-the-play fouls and other disruptive actions that might create problems.

“This is not really an experiment, it’s a fact-finding situation,” he said.

Minnesota Debut

Minnesota sent a participant to the national championships for the first time this year, and it required seven overtimes to determine which team that would be. Ultimately, Edina Junior Gold took the honors.

Competing in the Pure Division, Edina cruised through pool play with two wins and an overtime win, beating St. Rita (Illinois) 4-1, Orange Lutheran (California) 9-4 and then Carroll (Indiana) 6-5. After shutting out Idaho Falls (Idaho) 7-0 in the quarterfinals, Edina’s run ended with a 4-2 loss to Santa Margarita in the semis.

The Almost-Leader Board

Christian Brothers College High School of Missouri dominated the pure division with 89 total points, including 40 goals in its four games. Edina JGA had the second-most scores with 28 in five games.

The Christian Brothers Cadets used lopsided victories over Brentwood, Tennessee (14-1), East Lake, Florida (9-1) and Desert Vista, Arizona (14-0) to pad its stats. Regis beat the Missouri state champions 4-3 in the quarterfinals. 

Noah Roofe led all players with 14 points. He had six goals and eight assists, both of which tied for most in their respect categories, for CBC.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.


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