2013 Colorado Hockey Playoffs Elite 8 Standley Lake at Ralston Valley

The Rubber Match.  One win apiece for each team.  The first win went to Standley Lake earlier in the season when they hosted Ralston Valley at the Promenade in Westminster.  The second game was Ralston Valley’s just over a week earlier than this third and deciding game.  The winner would go to the Frozen Four at Denver University and the loser would be done for the season.

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado - Standley Lake Gators goalie Tyler Goff attempts to stop of a shot by a Ralston Valley Mustang player in their playoff game at the Apex Center in Arvada

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado – Standley Lake Gators goalie Tyler Goff attempts to stop of a shot by a Ralston Valley Mustang player in their playoff game at the Apex Center in Arvada

Standley Lake came into this game knowing that they had a chance.  They beat the Mustangs once, they believed they could do it again.  And when it comes to the playoffs, you have to believe.  That is where upsets come from.  So the Gators had to think positive about this match up.

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado - Standley Lake Gators forward Ryan McCarthy attempts to out skate Ralston Valley junior forward Victor Lombardi in the playoff game at the Apex Center in Arvada

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado – Standley Lake Gators forward Ryan McCarthy attempts to out skate Ralston Valley junior forward Victor Lombardi in the playoff game at the Apex Center in Arvada

Unfortunately for the Gators, Ralston Valley also believed they could win.  And going into the first period, the Mustangs put the Gators in their place.  Ralston Valley put the puck in the net twice in the opening frame to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado - Ralston Valley Mustang senior forward Landon Costley uses his stick to block a Standley Lake Gator shot attempt in the playoff game at the Apex Center in Arvada

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado – Ralston Valley Mustang senior forward Landon Costley uses his stick to block a Standley Lake Gator shot attempt in the playoff game at the Apex Center in Arvada

After the first break, if Lake was going to have a chance to win, they were going to have to turn up their game even more than they had all season long.  Their defense was able to hold Ralston Valley to just one goal in the second, but the offense was not able to get past the defense from Mustang goalie Zach Larocque.  The Mustangs lead 3-0 after 2 periods.

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado - Ralston Valley Mustang sophomore forward Ian Snedden controls the puck in the playoff game against Standley Lake at the Apex Center in Arvada

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado – Ralston Valley Mustang sophomore forward Ian Snedden controls the puck in the playoff game against Standley Lake at the Apex Center in Arvada

The Apex Center was rocking.  Both ways, when a shot was close to going in, or a great save was made, the cheers and sighs were loud.  It was electric.  But most of the cheers were coming from the Mustang fans.

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado - Ralston Valley Mustang senior forward Tanner West attempts to flip the puck backwards into the Standley Lake goal in their playoff game at the Apex Center in Arvada

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado – Ralston Valley Mustang senior forward Tanner West attempts to flip the puck backwards into the Standley Lake goal in their playoff game at the Apex Center in Arvada

The third period was the Gators last hope.  They would have to out play the Mustangs and out score them in order to tie the game and send it to overtime, or pull off a one goal win.  It was going to be a big undertaking against a team the level of Ralston Valley.

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado - Ralston Valley Mustang junior forward Tyler Morpurgo gathers the puck up in the playoff game against the Standley Lake Gators at the Apex Center in Arvada

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado – Ralston Valley Mustang junior forward Tyler Morpurgo gathers the puck up in the playoff game against the Standley Lake Gators at the Apex Center in Arvada

But it was more of the same in the third period.  Ralston Valley tacked on their 4th goal and held the Gators scoreless.  Lake tried and tried, but just could not find the space between the posts even once.

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado - A Standley Lake Gators player looks for an opening in the Ralston Valley Mustang defense in the playoff game at the Apex Center in Arvada

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado – A Standley Lake Gators player looks for an opening in the Ralston Valley Mustang defense in the playoff game at the Apex Center in Arvada

As the clock counted off the final seconds of the game, Larocque raised his hands into the air in celebration and the Ralston Valley bench cleared as the Mustangs started their celebration.  Next up for Ralston Valley would be a game against Resurrection Christian who they tied earlier in the month.

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado - Ralston Valley Mustang goalie Zach Larocque celebrates his team advancing into the Frozen Four after the victory over Standley Lake in the playoff game at the Apex Center in Arvada

February 23, 2013: Arvada, Colorado – Ralston Valley Mustang goalie Zach Larocque celebrates his team advancing into the Frozen Four after the victory over Standley Lake in the playoff game at the Apex Center in Arvada

As I wrote this post, Ralston Valley beat Resurrection Christian in the Frozen Four match up by a score of 5 to 1 and will face Monarch tomorrow night (3/1/13) for the State Championship.   Monarch comes into tomorrow nights final with only one loss on the season.  A home loss to the Ralston Valley Mustangs.  I will miss shooting the final because I will be covering the Ralston Valley Lady Mustangs in their second round basketball game at RV High School, but I wish the Mustang Hockey team my best.  Whether you win or lose, you had a great season.  I said way back after your first home game you were the team to beat.  Good Luck

To view and purchase photos from this game, please visit Maxpreps.

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