HIGHLANDS RANCH – Two years ago, the Durango hockey team didn’t even play in the Colorado High School Activities Association league.

Now, the Demons — who meld together players from the towns of Durango and Telluride — will be playing for the Class 4A state championship after a 4-1 semifinal victory over top-seeded Glenwood Springs.

Shaking off some nerves, Durango scored twice in the opening period and held the advantage the rest of the way, while it added a pair of insurance goals late on its way to a title game berth.

“This is wonderful for the kids, they’ve been battling all year and getting better,” Durango coach Brian Ensign said. “It’s only our second year in CHSAA, prior to that we were playing in another league, and it’s really nice to play in CHSAA and show that there is quality hockey played in the Four Corners area.”

The Demons — who knocked off two-time defending state champion and fifth-seeded Cheyenne Mountain in the quarterfinals after a first round bye — ended up on top going into the first intermission in the lead on goals by senior Lucas Betz and sophomore Wynn Daniels, the later coming with 1:40 left in the opening period to break a tie created by Glenwood Springs’ Jacob Barlow.

“After we started playing with them and we got a couple on the board, the boys were just flying,” senior captain Loudon Doemland said.

Neither team scored in the second period as the Demons escaped the period despite getting whistled for four penalties and playing short a man for much of the period.

Durango had a prime chance to expand the lead to start the third with a 5-on-3 of its own, but couldn’t generate any good scoring chances despite the advantage.

The Demons killed off two more power play chances for Glenwood Springs, then got goals from junior Bryson Quimby and senior Brady Holbrook (an empty-netter) to finish on a high note.

Glenwood Springs — coming off a 6-0 win over Battle Mountain in the quarterfinals — got an 18-save performance from goaltender Marek Sean. Coach Tim Cota’s team finished the season 16-4-1.

Durango’s next task is a matchup against Summit on a bigger stage at Magness Arena. The Demons played a game there earlier in the season against Kent Denver, so that will be an advantage.

“We know the rink and we’re going to go out and execute,” Doemland said. “We’re going to buzz and when we buzz, we win.”

Summit 4, Liberty 3

Summit — the No. 10 overall seed — continued its upset-filled run through the 4A state playoffs with a 4-3 victory over third-seeded Liberty.

The Tigers knocked out No. 7 Colorado in the opening round, took down No. 2 Steamboat Springs in the quarterfinals and completed a run to the final with its defeat of the Lancers, which evened their record at 10-10-1 ahead of the March 5 state championship game at Magness Arena.

Junior forward Jevin Palmquist came through with the eventual game-winning goal for Summit, as he scored with just 4:22 remaining in the third period for his second goal of the game and ninth on the season.

Palmquist ended the scoring, but he also opened it with a goal just 46 seconds into the contest, while senior Luke Weir also tallied in the period to send Summit into the first intermission with a two-goal edge.

That got erased in short order in the second period, as Liberty’s Ethan Graber and Micah Newton tallied within 4:37 of each other and both on assists from Brandon McIlhany.

All square going to the third period, sophomore Karston Kerr (who had both goals in a 2-1 win over Steamboat Springs) again put Summit in the lead with a power play goal, but Graber got his second of the contest at even stretch just under two minutes later to set up an intense finish.

Summit killed off a power play opportunity midway through the final period and then took the lead on the tally by Palmquist, which came after a faceoff to the right of the Liberty net. Palmquist skated onto an open puck and flipped a backhand that eventually found its way into the net.

Senior goalie Finn Schroder stopped 22 shots in the net for Summit.

Liberty, which got 15 saves from Logan Gabrielson, finished the season 16-5.