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Frustrating loss to Monarch is a bitter pill for Eagles to swallow

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By Michael Hicks

Joey Owston stomped off to the locker room as the frustration started to set in. The Dakota Ridge Eagles goalkeeper, as head coach Alec Hines said, played out of his mind. Monarch pelted him with shot after shot, yet he stood between the pipes, making save after save.
In all, Owston finished with 68 saves, but second-ranked Monarch pushed four of its five goals past the netminder to escape The Edge Ice Arena on Jan. 15 with a 5-3 win over eighth-ranked Dakota Ridge.
“Any time you get 72 shots on your tender and he stands in there and only lets in four, you’ve got to pat the kid on the back. That’s exactly what I did in the locker room,” Hines said.
Twice, the Eagles tied the game — first at 2-2 early in the second period and then again at 3-all late in the third — only for Monarch to break the tie a minute or so later. The latter time, on a Cameron Taggart goal with 1 minute, 29 seconds left in regulation, proved to be the game-winner. Taggart added an empty-netter with 16 seconds remaining.
Monarch led 2-0 midway through the first period on power-play goals from Dima Kyle and Walker Harris just 25 seconds apart — the first goal coming with the Coyotes having a 5-on-3 advantage.
Dakota Ridge tied the game at 2 on back-to-back Jake Ross goals — the first on the power play late in the first period and the second early in the second period off an assist from Zach Czarnecki. But the tied score would be short-lived.
“You could feel everyone’s heart just drop when they scored that one right away,” Czarnecki said. “We were able to get some more chances right after that, but we didn’t get any bounces going our way.”
Justin White’s goal just 3:51 into the second period pushed Monarch (8-1, 10 points) ahead 3-2 before Czarnecki’s unassisted goal with 2:23 left in regulation tied the game at three. Taggart, however, won it for Monarch 54 seconds later.
The show of frustration was a welcome sign. Dakota Ridge (6-2-4, nine points Foothills Conference) already has more wins than it’s ever had, and the eight points in league play are just one shy of last year’s school-best nine as the Eagles chase their first-ever playoff berth.
“I told my boys they’re allowed to be frustrated in the locker room. I’d rather the boys show those emotions. It’s a testament to where they’ve come the last couple of years,” Hines said. “The last couple of years, we’d be blown out by this team. These guys are all in it for each other. They’re a good, solid club. I’m OK with the emotions.”

Contact Michael Hicks at sports@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.