VAIL — If that was the third-ranked team in the state, Battle Mountain hockey will be in the mix of things this winter.
No. 3 Monarch came to Dobson on Friday night and handed the Huskies a 3-1 loss behind two lovely garbage goals from Dima Kyle and an empty-netter from Walker Harris.
“They’re definitely top four, no question about it,” Huskies coach Gary Defina said of the visiting Coyotes. “I think they scored 35 goals in their first three games, something like that. They just blew teams up. They’re a talented team, great goaltending, good speed up front. That’s a well-balanced team. We were a bounce away from winning that game or being tied. We were telling the boys all three goals were scored from inside the blue paint.”
That was where Kyle came in — he crashed the net twice and got two ugly goals, which, in hockey, are beautiful things. With 13:07 left in the second period, Monarch’s Justin White fired a shot off Battle Mountain goalie Oliver Elvenger’s pads. Kyle was right there to scoop the puck up and in for a 1-0 lead.
Elvenger had no chance there, nor did he have one with 4:32 left in regulation. On a jailbreak, the Huskies keeper was taken out of position and the puck ended up sitting innocently in the crease for Kyle, who swatted it home with another illustration of how crashing the net has its benefits.
Elvenger, nonetheless, was quite strong between the pipes with 31 saves on 33 shots. The Huskies’ Cole Caynoski scored with 60 seconds left in the game, giving Battle Mountain some brief life late.
The stat that will stick in Battle Mountain’s collective craw is 0-for-6 on the power play, including one four-minute stretch in the third period.
“The special teams need a bit of work and part of that is the two-week layoff,” Defina said. “That’s something where you need timing and you need practice. There’s a few little things we can do in transition a little better that can generate some more offense, getting the puck in deep and forechecking. Overall, I was proud of the way we played tonight.”
Monarch entered the game with a 3-0 record having outscored its opponents 34-2, including an 18-0 win over Rampart and a 12-1 pasting of Liberty. The Coyotes are 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the Foothills Conference. The Huskies fell to 4-2-1 and 1-1, respectively. Battle Mountain hosts Chatfield today at 5 p.m.