Cherry Creek hockey coach Jeff Mielnicki feels he has a team that can compete with other top Colorado Class 5A squads this season. The Bruins, a co-op team with players attending Creek, Cherokee …
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Cherry Creek hockey coach Jeff Mielnicki feels he has a team that can compete with other top Colorado Class 5A squads this season.
The Bruins, a co-op team with players attending Creek, Cherokee Trail, Grandview, Eaglecrest and Overland, defeated Fort Collins 4-3 on Jan. 21 in a Metro League game played at Family Sports Arena.
So far this season, it appears Valor Christian, Regis Jesuit, Monarch, Chaparral, defending state champion Denver East, Ralston Valley and Creek are the state’s top 5A teams.
“We match up with every team,” said Mielnicki. “Each team has plus or minus 10%. I don’t see one team just steamrolling.
“Valor beats Monarch in overtime, Ralston Valley beat Valor early in the season, Monarch and Ralston Valley tie, we split with Ralston Valley. So you’ve seen a lot more of these type games. All the teams are going to be prepared for the playoffs because they are playing meaningful, close games.”
Against Fort Collins, Creek took a 2-0 lead after the first period with Dominic Suchkov, a junior who attends Cherry Creek, scoring both goals.
Fort Collins rallied and tied the game at 2-2 with a power play goal in the third period but Creek responded with two goals in a four-minute span.
Jackson O’Brien, a senior from Cherokee Trail, scored from the top of the right faceoff circle and then Grandview junior William O’Grady made it 4-2 with a goal that offset a late Fort Collins goal.
“We did not have a good game (Jan. 20) against Ralston Valley (7-0 loss) but the lesson is ‘what are we going to do today,’” Mielnicki added. He said his team showed up almost two hours before the game to warm up: “They were focused and ready to go.
“The sign of a good team, when you give up a two-goal lead, usually it becomes a one-goal deficit, and we found a way to get right back on top. We have been ranked anywhere from one to three. We’re 7-3 and playing well.”
Cherry Creek improved to 4-3 in the Metro Conference and played without starting goalie Ethan Barnard, who is sidelined with an injury. Mason Banks, a freshman from Cherry Creek High School, started for the Bruins.
“We started a freshman goalie, his first start ever,” explained Mielnicki. “Our senior goalie got injured. He’s going to be out for weeks. Mason Banks played really well considering it was a tight game and we needed the points. The young goalie got our hard hat award, which goes to the hardest worker.”
Fort Collins, another co-op team that draws players from Fossil Ridge, Rocky Mountain, Fort Collins, Mountain View, Windsor, Loveland, Poudre, Berthoud, Roosevelt, Timnath and Severence high schools, is now 1-9 overall and 0-8 in the league.
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