DENVER – If there is one lesson that the Valor Christian hockey team learned last year, it’s this: scoring a lot of goals is a good way to win a state title.

Taking that lesson to heart, the Eagles attacked the net early and often. And the game plan worked. Valor buried shot after to shot to beat Ralston Valley 7-3 and claim the Class 5A hockey title once again.

This is the third hockey championship for Valor overall and the team has won all three since 2020. Last year’s loss to Denver East was a disappointing setback, but a little perspective helped this team understand that winning championships are special and they should never be taken for granted.

“You can’t describe the feeling,” captain Noah Fekete said. “I’m still in shock a little bit, even having done it two times before.”

Garrett Covney and Alec Alfieri put the Eagles (20-1 overall) up 2-0 before Ralston Valley got on the board with a Cole Francque goal late in the first period. Each team scored twice in the second with Nick Maronna and Aiden Owen scoring for the Eagles while Tsavo Cole and Devin Strong tallied goals for the Mustangs.

It was Maronna’s goal that turned out to be the game winner.

(Dan Mohrmann/

When the third period started, Valor grabbed control and never looked back. Colton Ackerman scored less than a minute into the period and Maddux Charles punched in a goal of his own a little more than four minutes later.

The Eagles knew claiming a state title was going to happen if they own the third period.

“The early goal in the third period was obviously a big one,” Valor coach George Gwozdecky said. “Ralston was maybe trying to press too much too early and they gave up that 3-on-1. These guys have worked really hard to get back to this game and have this opportunity. I think they sensed that with 17 minutes to go, it was theirs if they wanted it.

Perhaps the most telling aspect about this team is that the seven goals came from seven different players. There was no “go-to” guy on this roster. This team had a shared mission which meant they were more than happy to share credit.

“It’s like Coach said in the locker room, the strength of the wolf is in the pack,” Maronna said. “We just brought that out here tonight.

The 2022-23 season was a bit of a return to the dominant nature that Ralston Valley experienced in the early 2010’s. They played in four state title games from 2010-14 and won two of those games.

But only one team could win a third on Tuesday.

Of its three state championship wins, this is the most Valor has scored in a given game. No one could forget the 1-0 five-overtime classic against Fort Collins in 2020. The rematch a year later was again a one-goal game, but finished 4-3 rather than 1-0.

But this state championship win was a bit more special because it came in the very building where Gwozdecky became a household name to Colorado hockey fans.

“It was home for me for 19 years,” Gwozdecky said. “In this section of the building, I know every nook and cranny.” That includes the 2004 and 2005 national championship banners that hang from the rafters in Magness.

It was Gwozdecky who led the team to those titles. And now he gets to hang a third a banner at Valor.