WESTMINSTER - Rich Pijanowski will have to raise the expectations for his Standley Lake hockey squad.
The Gators rallied back from a 2-goal deficit to force a 2-2 tie with defending state champion Regis Jesuit Raiders on Saturday.
“Kids have absolutely stepped up as a group,” Pijanowski said. “Last few years Regis has handed our lunch to us, and we gave them a very good run for them money.”
Mitch McEwan found the back of the net in the second period and then Chris Huitt scored a power-play goal with 52 seconds left in the third period to force overtime with the defending state champions.
Nathan Haas scored both goals for Regis, getting his first in the opening period and then adding another midway through the second. Standley Lake’s Tyler Goff stopped 29 of 31 shots in the game, including some big stops in the second.
Neither squad could find the back of the net in overtime, but the Gators had their chances.
“Regis is not used to being in that position,” Pijanowski said. “I really wanted to get the kids over the top of the mountain.”
Regis (8-0-2 overall, 3-0-1 in Foothills), which has lost only one game in two years, went into the game outscoring its opponents 41-6. Standley Lake (6-3-1 overall, 4-1-1 in Foothills) also shut out Dakota Ridge on Friday, Conner Watkins and Zach Carlson each had goals in the game. Pijanowski credits the Gators success this season on the leadership of Watkins and McEwan.
“Conner has been a constant force about yapping about the team,” Pijanowski said. “Mitch is the final piece; he brings the same voice in locker room that it is about the team. They leave it all out there.”
Standley Lake will have a week off before it faces Chatfield next Wednesday, the Gators will host Steamboat Springs on Jan. 26.