Coronado High opened the 2012-13 ice hockey season with a trio of statement victories Saturday, over two defending state champions.
The T-Birds took a hard fought 3-2 win over Albuquerque Cibola, Saturday morning, then followed it up with an 11-1 thrashing of Rio Rancho Cleveland Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning, they coasted to a 6-0 win over "Outkast," a team comprised of players from Albuquerque-area schools without hockey teams.
The victory in the Saturday morning game was sweet redemption against a team that tormented Coronado last year. The Cibola Cougars beat Coronado four times during the 2011-12 season and playoffs, including the New Mexico state composite championship. Composite teams include players from other schools that don't have hockey programs.
The Cleveland Storm were also state champs in 2011-12 in a division for teams that only have players who actually attend that school. The Cleveland game was close for awhile. The first period ended tied, 1-1. After that, the T-Birds coasted to a 6-1 lead after the second period, and chipped three goals in during the final two minutes for the 11-1 final.
In the morning game, the T-Birds’ John Gilbert scored early in the first period, and Coronado never trailed. Goaltender Kelsi Byrd made several dramatic saves in the third period. Cibola finished the game with two extra skaters on the ice during the final minute, after pulling their goalie and a Coronado penalty.
Cibola was undefeated last year, finishing the year 26-0. The Cougars beat the T-Birds 6-1 in the composite championship game at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho last March to cap their perfect season.
This is Coronado’s second year fielding an ice hockey team. They play in the co-ed New Mexico Interscholastic League along with squads from the Albuquerque/Rio Rancho area and Taos, Los Alamos and Santa Fe.
The T-Birds are off this week, and next play four games in the Albuquerque area on November 16 and 17.