DENVER – In just its second year as a varsity program, Durango struck championship gold. The Demons rode an emotional wave of a season that ended with a 4-2 win over Summit at Magness Arena to claim the Class 4A hockey crown.

As the title trophy was passed around to each member of the team, it meant something a little more special to Mateo Bubolo.

A senior for the Demons, Bubolo was hospitalized early in the season after the car he was traveling in on the way home from a 10-0 win over Air Academy was t-boned. The fact that he was skating in pre-game warmups and hanging on the bench to watch his friends and teammates complete an historical season was nothing short of a miracle.

“I had a C3 fracture in my vertebrae and I also tore an artery in my neck,” Bubolo. “I wasn’t allowed to get my heartrate up [during recovery] and I basically just helped the team in any way I could. I went to all the games and was still a part of the team, I just couldn’t practice or play in any of the games.”

But for this game, the final game of the season and most important game of Durango’s young history as a sanctioned CHSAA program, he donned his pads and skates and participated in pre-game warmups.

It was no secret that Bubolo, one of three players (his younger brother Juno and Loudon Doemland being the others) involved in that crash, was the emotional center of the game.

(Dan Mohrmann/

“This was dedicated to those boys in the crash,” Brady Holbrook said. “We worked extra hard to get them this win.”

And that’s really all they had to do was go out, play and win.

The scoreless tie was broken early as Henry Howe fired a shot at Tigers goalie Finn Schroder that beat him high. The Demons seized the momentum and grabbed a 6-1 edge in shots on goal early in the period. Summit settled in eventually and pulled even on shots, but there wasn’t anything that overly challenged Durango goalie. Luka Remec With a one-goal lead and a key piece of their team providing emotional motivation, Durango had no interest letting the Tigers even things up.

“We were excited but we knew we had to keep the pressure on,” Hollbrook said.

Goals from Holbrook and Wynn Daniels pushed the lead to 3-0 in the second. After a slew of penalties gave Summit a 4-on-3 advantage, they got on the scoreboard with a power play goal from Cole Stuckey.

Graham Schuman added a goal with 17 seconds left in the third, but an empty-netter from Lucas Betz locked up the championship for the Demons.

The Durango roster is comprised students from both Durango and Telluride. At times during the year, the players practice separately and get into the same facility when time and whether allow them to.

Building a team dynamic can be difficult in those circumstances, but even before the accident, this was a team that was unified in its goal of making history.

“We’re doing two separate practices for most of the week,” coach Brian Ensign said. “Then we have a longer, three-hour practice on the weekends. Most of my coaching is done from the bench.

Although this is the first state title in program history for the Demons, this team hopes the emotional adversity they faced to win it can inspire Demons team of the future.

“There were definitely some tears,” Bubolo said. “A lot of people on the team were very motivated to win it for me, my brother and everyone in the accident. It gave them a boost.”

It was a win for the Bubolo family, the Doemland family and the southwest corner of the state. When adversity is mentioned for the high school state champions of the 2023-24, the conversation should start in Durango, Colorado.

(Dan Mohrmann/