Despite semifinal loss, Chaparral's play speaks volumes on the ice

Young program has notched consecutive Frozen Four appearances


It was easy for Chaparral hockey coach Ryan Finnefrock to recall a meeting two years ago.

That was when it was finalized that hockey players from Legend, Ponderosa and Chaparral would create a co-op hockey team to play in the Colorado High School Association leagues. Students from private schools in Parker, including Lutheran, CEC and eDCSD were also encouraged to join the team.

In the two seasons after that meeting, the infant Chaparral team has advanced twice to the Frozen Four semifinals.

The Wolverines went 16-6-1 in their first campaign in 2017-18 and advanced through the playoffs until a 7-1 semifinal loss to eventual state champion Regis.

In this season's semifinals, March 1 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Regis blanked Chaparral 4-0 and the Wolverines ended the season with a 16-6 record.

Second-seeded Valor Christian, last season's state runner-up, was upset 5-1 by Dakota Ridge in the other semifinal contest.

“Two years ago, we were in a meeting to get a hockey team,” said Finnefrock. “A lot of credit goes to our athletic director, Rob Johnson. For a basketball guy to support the hockey program was great. To be in the final four our first two years says a lot.”

Johnson, who was Chaparral's head basketball coach for eight seasons before becoming AD, explained that Douglas County School District Athletic Director Derek Chaney was planning on creating a co-op team for Parker area schools and Chaparral would be the host school.

“Derek said to have a meeting just with your Parker community to see if people are interested,” said Johnson. “We had a meeting in the library and it filled up. The response was good.

“I'm not a hockey guy, but I was told Parker is full of hockey players. There is not one sheet of ice in Parker but there are kids in our halls right now that are Triple A players who don't play for us... With Finnefrock, he has an amazing personality and is an amazing teacher in the building. He's gotten a couple of those kids to play.”

One of those players was senior Dylan Florit, a former Triple A player who transferred from Mountain Vista to Chaparral to play for the Wolverines.

“I didn't know anybody when I came here,” said Florit who tied with Alex Harlan as the team's top scorer this season with 37 points. “I decided to play high school and it was just as competitive. We had a great group of players.”

Chaparral still has work to do. The team was outshot 39-11 in the semifinal setback to Regis and three of the Wolverines losses this season were to the Raiders.

“We were handled 7-1 by Regis last year in the semifinals,” Finnefrock said. “We gave up a goal late but basically it was a 3-0 game this year.

“We have to continue to work. There were times we were outworked by Regis. The players deserve the credit. They worked hard and played hard.”

In the other semifinal, Valor Christian went into the game having defeated Dakota Ridge 6-0 on Jan. 4. But the Jefferson County team avenged that loss with an impressive scoring spree.

A goal by Ryder Price, off an assist from Caleb Pallo, pushed Valor ahead 1-0 at the 7:33 mark of the first period but Dakota Ridge scored three goals before the period was over and five overall unanswered goals to move into the finals.

Valor (17-4-1) outshot Dakota Ridge, 26-22, including 13-4 in the third period but couldn't mount a comeback.


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