The Durango Demons varsity club hockey team is on a tear heading into the Rio Grande High School Hockey League playoffs.
The Demons rattled off their ninth consecutive win dating back to early January on Sunday, as they defeated Los Alamos 7-0 and 10-0 at the Chapman Hill Ice Rink.
Durango (16-2-2) got off to a quick start on Sunday, as the Demons scored four times in the first period. In the second, senior captain Braden Lyons scored two more times, including a short-handed goal, which gave him his third of the game. After Lyons completed his hat trick, the Demons scored four more times with four different players. Seven different players scored in the win.
With the win, Durango locked up the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, which start Friday.
“It’s amazing seeing these young guys stepping up, and right now we’ve got two players, myself and Zak Wentworth, at the top of the league for points,” Lyons said. “But it’s more than just us. It’s all of these young kids that are stepping up. It’s amazing to see as captains, to see how far we’ve come in the last few weeks, and really the past few seasons, it’s remarkable.”
During the winning streak, the Demons have outscored opponents 68-8. In addition, Lyons is the league leader in points with 48, while freshman Zak Wentworth has 45. While the Demons’ offense has been impressive, so too has their defense. After struggling to find chemistry early in the season, assistant captain Jax Bayer said the turning point came once January rolled around.
“Everybody is moving their feet and is contributing toward wins,” Bayer said. “Our work effort is really impressive, and we’re beating them with our speed and energy. Our freshman goalie, Hunter Houle, has kept shutouts in five of our last seven games, and our defensemen are doing such a good job of going after every loose puck, and our effort is fantastic.”
The Demons have stiff competition in league, as Telluride finished one point higher in the standings and scored nine more goals in the season (126), and gave up fewer goals (32). Still, Lyons believes that with the way DHS has been playing, the Demons can hang with anyone.
“Everett(Howland) was injured the last year, but we’ve been playing for six or seven years together,” Lyons said. “We’ve seen the playoffs a lot, more than we should have, but we haven’t seen the banner or the trophy yet. We’ve been so close, and we’ve been runners up a bunch. With the way that we’ve been playing, we know that we have to take it one game at a time, but I think this is the year that we can break through.”
The playoffs will begin Friday in Santa Fe, and the Demons will face the winner of Los-Alamos and Albuquerque at 8 p.m. Friday at the Chavez Center. If they win, the semifinals will be at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and the championship will be at 1 p.m. Sunday.