COLORADO SPRINGS – Taking advantage of one 5-on-3 situation is one thing. Preventing an advantage on another 5-on-3 situation can be a backbreaker.

Liberty scored on a two-man advantage early in the third period, then killed off a Crested Butte two man chance, only to score just seconds after killing the penalties. Thanks to that swing, it was the Lancers getting a 5-3 win over the Titans and punching a ticket to the Class 4A hockey semifinals.

The goal by Chris Kunze fresh off the Titans’ 5-on-3 chance was ultimately game-winner.

“I saw my lane and I’ve played with Tristan Ward and Micah [Newton] all year,” Kunze said. “We have great chemistry and I know where they’re going to be and where they’re going to put the puck and I just put myself in the right place.”

With the win, the Lancers are into the state hockey semifinals for the first time since winning the unclassified state title in 2001. When coach Kent McIlhany tries to describe the fight he sees in his team, the end of the second period and the start of the third provided the perfect example.

After getting shutout in the first period, the Titans were able to add a little balance to the offense in the second and found good results. They upped their shots on net in the second period and took a 2-1 lead thanks to the goals from Grady Dietrich and Carson Zummach.

(Dan Mohrmann/

Ryan Seder, a very vocal lead on the team, encouraged his teammates and refused to let anyone believe that Tuesday night was going to be the end of their season.

“He always does the speech,” McIlhany said. “He said, ‘We’re not going to let this happen. We’re not going to let this happen. We’re going to take control.'”

And he put action to his words. He scored with 3:29 left in the period to tie the game, but perhaps the crucial moment of the second came with just a few seconds left on the clock. Dominick Cerio picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving the Lancers almost a full power play to start the third period.

Things got worse to start the third as Max Dukeman joined Cerio in the box for tripping to give the Lancers a 5-on-3 for 30 seconds.

They only needed it for half that time.

Ethan Graber got the puck right in front of the net and jammed it by Church to give Liberty its first lead since early in the second period.

Things got tense shortly after, however. Ward and Kunze picked up penalties within 20 seconds of each other and gave the Titans a 5-on-3.

“There was a little bit of panic for sure,” goalie Logan Gabrielson said. “It just comes back to trusting your players and trusting your team and knowing they’re going to fight through it.”

They did just that, killing both penalties right before Bogart scored, giving the Lancers their deepest playoff appearance in 23 years.

The Lancers now await the winner of No. 2 Steamboat Springs and No. 10 Summit, a game that will be played on Wednesday. The semifinals will be played on Saturday at the South Suburban Sports Complex in Highlands Ranch.

(Dan Mohrmann/