Mountain Vista’s ice hockey team bested Cherry Creek 4-3 in overtime on Dec. 20, helping capping a three-win week for the Golden Eagles. With a 3-0 record on the season, Vista has now moved up to No. 2 in the CHSAANow.com rankings.
“We have a strong team and I think the strength of our team is our offense,” said assistant coach Matt Anthone. “We have players from five Douglas County schools on our roster but we are united as a team and we are playing good hockey right now.”
The game against Cherry Creek was packed with fast-paced action from the opening faceoff.
Throughout the night, players on both teams absorbed hard-hitting collisions, took short breathers and returned to action, as line changes were constant. Penalties were few but each team did get a couple power play advantages.
Cherry Creek jumped out to a 2-0 advantage with goals in each of the first two periods. Mountain Vista responded with a goal in the second and went ahead 3-2 with a pair of goals in the third. But Creek wasn’t done, battling back and tying the score to force overtime. The Golden Eagles got the needed overtime tally.
Ryan Daugherty led Mountain Vista with two goals and an assist, while Connor Gerace and Cade Boreing each scored a goal for the Golden Eagles. In net, goalie Joe Morgan made 24 saves.
Cherry Creek got two goals from Cody Oakes and a goal from Nick McWharter while Owen Berman registered a pair of assists. Aaron Jatana made 33 saves for the Bruins.
Like Mountain Vista, Cherry Creek is a consolidated team with players from throughout the school district, representing seven schools.
“Just about all our guys play hockey all year so most of them know each other and have either played together or against the athletes who are now teammates,” said Cherry Creek coach Jeff Mielnicci.
The coach said he has a good, hard-working group of kids and that he hopes to establish a solid program that focuses on teamwork, discipline and respect for the game.
“I have been coaching hockey in the Denver area for 20 years,” Mielnicci said. “So, I am old school in a way but I have young beliefs so I mesh well with the kids because I am looking for new trends in the game. My desire is to help the players understand the game and the fact hockey is a fantastic game.”
The rinks went dark for the holidays after several Dec. 21 games. As the teams head into the 2014 portion of the season, Mountain Vista is third in the Peak League with a 2-0 mark and sits at 3-0 overall. Cherry Creek, ranked No. 4, is 5-1-1 overall and 2-0-1 in the Foothills League, good for first place.