Hockey fans received a double dose of entertainment on Saturday night as No. 14 ranked Ralston Valley showed up determined to knock off No. 2 Valor.
As the teams took the ice for warm-ups, the northeast side of the arena was already decorated in Navy, White and Columbia colored balloons floating next to jerseys of the six seniors in preparation for the big Senior Night ceremony that would be held at the intermission.
In the first period, the Eagles got on the scoreboard early as senior Patrick Routzon positioned himself in front of net and scored on a rebound off a point shot to give Valor a 1-0 lead. The lead held up until a Valor turnover in the defensive zone led to the Mustangs tying goal and a 1-1 game.
During the first intermission, all six hockey seniors and their parents were honored with an impressive and emotional on-ice ceremony. The six honored seniors were Christopher Orsmond, Nick Blisard, Jack Kuzia, Patrick Routzon, Max Malinski and Cole Cavey.
As the second period got underway, Valor was whistled for a penalty. The Eagles penalty kill units have been strong all season long and have made many clutch plays when needed. Once again the penalty killers came up huge as senior Patrick Routzon scored his second goal of the game, this time short-handed, to give Valor a 2-1 lead.
From that point, the intense game became a test of wills as both teams flew up and down the ice while continuing to challenge each other physically. Both goaltenders were called on to make some outstanding saves.
Late in the third period, with Valor hanging onto its 2-1 lead, Ralston Valley pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker. The move backfired as junior Colton Carlson scored his team leading 19th goal into an empty net to give Valor a 3-1 lead and the victory.
The “shield and sword” winners were sophomore Caleb Pallo and senior Patrick Routzon.
With just one game remaining in the regular season, Valor (15-2-1) has cemented it’s hold onto the No. 2 position in the RPI state rankings behind No. 1 Regis. The RPI rankings will be used to determine the final seedings for the CHSAA State Hockey Tournament which begins on Tuesday, February 19.
Next Friday, Valor travels to Family Sports Ice Arena to take on arch-rival Regis Jesuit in the final game of the regular season for both teams. Game time is 5:40pm.