Mountain Vista's hockey team is finally going to play in the Frozen Four.
After years of being ousted in either the first round or quarterfinals of the state playoffs, the Golden Eagles beat defending state champion Cherry Creek 4-3 on Feb. 27 at the South Suburban Ice Arena to advance to the semifinals.
“This is the first time our program has made it to the final four,” said coach Kevin Insana. “A lot of the seniors have been on this team for a while, and for four years they have worked hard for it, so I'm happy for them.”
Mountain Vista (14-5-0) will play Regis Jesuit (20-1-0) in a 7 p.m. semifinal game March 3 at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland. Ralston Valley (19-2-0) will challenge Monarch (20-0-0) in the first semifinal contest at 5 p.m.
The state championship game is set for 1 p.m. March 5 at the Budweiser Events Center.
Mountain Vista took a three-game losing streak into the playoffs. The Golden Eagles lost to Denver East 4-2 on Feb. 15 and dropped a 4-3 decision to Regis on Feb. 19 before losing 3-2 to Cherry Creek on Feb. 20.
The Golden Eagles opened the playoffs at South Suburban with a 4-3 win over Aspen Feb. 26, and Kaden Stewart's goal at the 12:14 mark of the third period off assists from Michael Karas and Jordan Cox boosted Vista to the win over Creek and into the semifinals.
“It was a phenomenal team effort, and it took everyone to win the game,” said Insana. “It was probably the most complete game we've played all year. “We had a stretch at the end where we played a lot of top teams, and it got us ready for the playoffs. We're playing our best hockey right now.”
Cherry Creek advanced into the quarterfinals with a 7-0 first-round win over Liberty.
Regis played excellent defense in a 10-0 first-round win over Cheyenne Mountain and an 8-0 blanking of Steamboat Springs in two playoff games at Family Sports Arena. The Raiders will be making their ninth straight appearance in the state semifinals.
Ralston Valley whipped Valor Christian 10-1 in a first-round game, and Tony Salazar's goal in the second overtime gave the Mustangs a 4-3 win over Resurrection Christian in a quarterfinal matchup at Big Bear North. Ralston Valley won back-to-back state championships in 2013 and 2014.
Shane McGregor's second-period power-play goal was the only tally for Heritage, which lost 9-1 to undefeated Monarch in the first round. Monarch, which lost to Cherry Creek in three overtimes in the 2015 state championship game, beat Dakota Ridge 5-2 on Feb. 27 at Boulder Valley Ice.
Monarch beat Ralston Valley 5-1 on Jan. 26.