DHS Hockey Celebrates State Title

March 12, 2024

The Durango High School The Demons hockey team captured the 4A State Championship by beating Summit 4-2 in Denver on March 5th. The accomplishment came just two years after Durango moved from a club team to a sanctioned varsity team under the Colorado High School Activities Association regulations. The win marks a banner year for Durango Hockey, which celebrated major accomplishments across most of its age designations in 2023/24. By Connor Shreve. This story is sponsored by Payroll Department and Serious Texas B-B-Q.

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Durango High School is celebrating its state champion hockey team. You're watching the "Local News Network," brought to you by Payroll Department and Serious Texas Bar-B-Q. I'm Connor Shreve. In just its second year as a sanctioned Colorado High School Varsity Sport, Durango High School is delivering the state championship hockey trophy.

Oh, my God. It's been amazing. For it to be my senior year and be the one team in the league to end with a win is just absolutely spectacular. I couldn't have asked for anything else.

Head coach Brian Ensign says everything came together at the right time.

You know, for me, I've been coaching a long time, and this is a really special group. It means a lot to me, and it's great to see the kids, and their effort, and the families, and all of the, you know, all the energy everybody put into hockey in this region, from Telluride to Durango, and into these players. And, you know, whenever somebody can have success or a team can have success, can't ask for anything more.

From the outside, winning a Colorado championship just two years after becoming a sanctioned varsity team is nothing short of impossible. But head coach Brian Ensign credits the program's development as a club team before the varsity designation from the Colorado High School Activities Association.

You know, when we were sponsored by the high school playing club hockey in the last five, six years before entering CHSAA, it was a development years and it was gradual growth to where we are now and the skill we have now. We would've probably taken the championship three out of the last three years in the Rio Grande High School League.

Durango's program is built on a partnership. About half the team's 41 players come from Telluride. They practice daily, led by coaches who learn the drills from Durango's head coach. Senior defenseman Zach Griswold says his team is experienced enough to overcome the challenge of playing with guys who practice together maybe once a week, which can be a challenge.

A little bit, 'cause, you know, during practice you're changing, you're getting better in some areas, and all that. But I felt like I had my defensive partner, who was Leyton Holbrook, who is from Telluride. And I feel like after the first two games, we were just, we clicked. Everything, we knew where to be, how to support each other, and all that.

The Demons were cheered by hundreds who couldn't make the trip to Denver for the title game at Durango's Chapman Hill Ice Rink. Griswold feels the community support.

I feel like it's just, we're all together and I feel like everyone, seeing everyone from the Brown Dog in Telluride, and I think it was Ska here in Durango, all doing a watch party just felt so cool having everyone just be there and watching.

He says it's as close a team as he's been a part of. Coach Ensign says the response he received speaks to the strength of the hockey community in Durango, which will likely only go stronger in the years ahead. You can learn more about this and other stories at durangolocal.news. Thanks for watching this edition of the "Local News Network." I'm Connor Shreve.


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