Cibola claims ‘intense’ 2017-18 NMIIHL state championship
The New Mexico Interscholastic Ice Hockey League (NMIIHL) season came to a close March 9 as the Cibola Cougars edged the Big Texan Bulls 3-2 in the state championship game at the McDermott Athletic Center in Rio Rancho.
Jaden Schroeder tallied the game-winning goal for the Cougars in the first minute of the third period and the Cibola defense, including goaltender Max Hoffman, who made 30 saves, stood tall the rest of the way.
“From that point on, our defense led by seniors Tanner Colyer and Ricky Haverland, played solid, lights-out defense,” said Cibola coach Brett Lovette. “Amarillo had a surge of offensive pressure in the last five minutes of the game, led by their senior and league MVP Vincent Petrey, but Hoffman came up with some big saves to keep us ahead for the win.”
Schroeder’s goal was assisted by NMIIHL leading scorer and tournament MVP Tylec Kohlrust.
“The vibe at ice level was intense,” said Lovette. “It was a physical game with both teams battling hard, and the momentum shifting back and forth throughout the game.”
Bulls goalie Xavier Swain faced 53 shots, stopping 50 of them in the defeat.
Lovette added that he has seen the NMIIHL grow in talent level over the past few years.
“The competitiveness of the league is on the rise,” said Lovette. “This year’s playoffs and mid-season tournament were all close games and great competitive hockey. The quality of the league gets better each season. We hope to see the NMIIHL grow and continue to offer a competitive experience for all our players.”
In the JV state championship game, the Bulls took that title by defeating the Durango Devils in late February. The Bulls took a 3-1 decision in the extra period after losing the final regulation game of the tournament to the Devils 2-0.
Since the Bulls entered the final game undefeated in the double-elimination tournament, a 15-minute winner-take-all period was necessary to decide the champion.
— Matt Mackinder
(April 2, 2018)