Ralston Valley hockey comes up short against Valor in title game

Dennis Pleuss
Jeffco Public Schools
Posted 3/14/23

DENVER — Valor Christian claimed its third hockey state championship in four years March 7 at Magness Arena on the University of Denver campus.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Ralston Valley hockey comes up short against Valor in title game


DENVER — Valor Christian claimed its third hockey state championship in four years March 7 at Magness Arena on the University of Denver campus.

The Eagles finished off a 20-game winning streak with the highest scoring state hockey title game since 1992 with a 7-3 victory over Ralston Valley.

“We were an hungry as ever,” Valor senior captain Noah Fekete said after being handed the state trophy by CHSAA assistant commissioner Justin Saylor. “We knew coming into this game that this is where we need to be and wanted to be. We were for sure thinking about last year standing at the blue-line and watching the other team celebrate. That wasn’t going to be us this year.”

Denver East prevented Valor from winning a third straight title last year. The Angels took a 6-3 victory over the Eagles at Magness Arena in 2022.

“These guys have worked really hard to get back to this game and have this opportunity,” Valor coach George Gwozdecky said. “I think they sensed with 17 minutes to go it was their’s if they wanted it. It was a matter of going out there and executing like we’ve done all year long.”

Valor held a slim 4-3 lead going into the third period. The Eagles scored three unanswered goals to win going away. Fekete had a huge goal 45 seconds into the third period and then Valor scored its third power-play goal of the game by freshman Maddux Charles with 12:04 left in the period to extend the lead to 6-3.

“I don’t know if it was really any Xs and Os,” Gwozdecky said of the third period. “The power-play goal and early goal in the third period was obviously a huge one.”

Fekete put in his second goal of the period with three minutes to play to make it the highest scoring state championship game on the ice in more than three decades.

“Going into the third period in the locker room we were kind of over the back-and-forth game,” Fekete said. “We were due for a couple of goals to put on top of each other to finish them out. That was the focus heading into the third period.”

Valor (20-1 record) never trailed thanks to a solid start in the first period with goals by seniors Garrett Covney and Alec Alfieri to open up a 2-0 lead. However, Ralston Valley got a much-needed goal in the final minute to cut the lead in half.

A heavy shot from senior Cole Francque got through Valor goalie Cooper Robinson and trickled across the goal-line before Robinson could drive back to keep the puck out the net. The Mustangs’ goal came with 38.9 seconds left in the first period.

Valor and Ralston Valley traded blows in the second period. The Eagles got power-play goals by seniors Aidan Owen and Nick Maronna, but the Mustangs answered each goal with one of their own.

Senior Tsavo Cole picked up a short-handed goal with 12:28 left in the second period to cut Valor’s lead to 3-2. Cole went end-to-end to eventually put in the rebound from a shot by Ralston Valley senior Devin Strong.

“It was one of those strange games where at times I thought we had complete control,” Gwozdecky said. “Then … Ralston Valley would take advantage of a bad miscue on our part. I don’t know if we gave up a short-handed goal all season long.”

After Maronna’s power-play goal with 6:03 left in the second period to give Valor back is 2-goal lead, Strong took a sharp-angled shot into the back off the net off a face-off with 3:53 left in the second period to again make it a 1-goal game heading to the final period of regulation.

A huge key for Valor was its penalty killing. The Eagles took five 2-minute minor penalties, but killed off all five.

“Our penalty kill did an outstanding job,” Gwozdecky said. 

It was the rubber match between the 5A Metro League squads. Ralston Valley (14-5-2) handed Valor its lone loss of the regular season with a 4-3 overtime win Dec. 3. Valor evened up the series with a 4-2 home victory Jan. 7 on the Eagles way to a 19-game winning streak entering the championship game Tuesday.

Ralston Valley’s first-year coach Nick Spinder — a 2012 Ralston Valley graduate — got the Mustangs back to the state title game for the first time since 2014. Spinder graduated from Ralston Valley just after its back-to-back state titles in 2013 and 2014.

It was Valor’s fifth trip to the championship game over the past six seasons with Gwozdecky at the helm. The legendary coach spent 19 years at the University of Denver, coaching the Pioneers to back-to-back NCAA National Championship titles in 2004 and 2005. 

Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.

Valor Christian, hockey, state championship, Arvada, high school sports


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.