Tied after the first, Regis Jesuit fired it up in the second period against Fountain Valley with a powerful offensive attack, ringing up three straight goals in the first 4 minutes.
The surge allowed No. 4 Regis to coast to a 7-3 upset (on paper at least) over No. 1 Fountain Valley in the state quarterfinals at Sertich Ice Arena. Regis, the defending state champion and winner of three of the past five, booked a return ticket to the state semifinals.
“These guys have one of the best combinations of depth of numbers and depth of talent,” Danes coach Mike Payne said. “Regis just doesn’t really have any weak links.”
With Conner Wigton and assistant captain Sean Brennan running the offensive attack, six players put the puck in the net for Regis (16-2-3). Nolan Carothers scored his second of the game with a little help from a deflection in front of the net with 13:43 left in the second. His goal capped the three-goal run that was essential to Regis’ victory.
“We just really bore down today and buried our chances,” Carothers said. “We got the puck to the net. We finished our rebounds. ... We just put a lot of shots on net.”
The sound defense throughout the game held FVS sharpshooter and state-leading goal scorer senior Trevor Shott goalless. Aleksi Pulkkila and Jakub Myska, however, could not be restrained. Pulkkila scored one goal in the second, with Myska getting his in the third. Both goals came on special teams. Garrett Van Wyhe also scored for the Danes (16-5).
“Trevor’s a great, quiet leader and he brings a tremendous skill set to the rink,” Payne said. “So we will miss, not just his points, but the puck possession that he allows us to have on breakouts, neutral zone entry.”
Regis junior goalie Sam Harden starred by shutting down much of the FVS offensive attack with a strong glove and quick feet.
“I think just coming together as a team, right here at the end of the season, that’s what it’s all about,” Harden said. “I think we are all coming together to play good (defense) and finish our opportunities.”
“We are a strong defensive team when he’s in net, because he just doesn’t give up those second chances,” Regis coach Dan Woodley said.
The Regis defense held FVS scoreless in the last 11 minutes. Regis’ Connor Duffey, Sean Brennan and Nathan Haas also scored.
Regis will carry its momentum to Magness Arena in Denver, where it will face the winner between No. 2 Monarch and No. 3 Air Academy on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.
Regis beat Air Academy early in the season and tied Monarch.
“We know what to expect from them, they are very good teams,” Woodley said. “That’ll be a heck of a game.”