EAST ALTON — The Bethalto Eagles advance in the Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association (MVCHA) after defeating the Marquette Explorers 5-2 Tuesday in the second game of a best-of-three series.
The Eagles entered Game 2 with a one-game advantage over the Explorers after earning a 4-2 win in the opening game of the series on Monday.
The Eagles will face either the East Alton-Wood River Oilers or the Jerseyville Panthers after their round is completed. The Oilers shutout the Panthers 4-0 on Tuesday in Game 1 of the other 1A West Division semifinal series. The Eagles will have a week off the ice before starting the next round.
The Explorers finish their year at 5-11-3.
"The boys played hard," Marquette head coach John Dumoulin said. "Ian Sovan with a goal and an assist really had the energy for our team tonight. Our guys have had a good season with a really short bench. We hope to come back stronger next year with a few more players and improve on our season."
Bethalto netted the first goal of the game at 7:34 with a shot by captain Aaron Scott with assists by Konnar Loewen and Jayden Kahl to get the Eagles started.
Marquette forward Jacob Nickel tied the game with 1:01 left on the clock, assisted by Sovar to keep the Explorers in the game.
Bethalto rebounded with a goal by Loewen, assisted by Scott and Anthony Russo to retake the lead 2-1 with just 18-seconds left in the first period.
"Our offense was good this series," Bethalto head coach Corey Newgent said. "Anytime your in a short series like this, it's important to win that first game so you don't have to play that tight. It gives us room to be a little more creative with line assignments and guys who are on the bench. We were able to play our style of game without worrying about making mistakes."
The second period brought the Eagles out of their nest with quick back-to-back goals to advance the lead over Marquette to 4-1. Loewen scored his second goal of the game off an assist by Colton Hamlett at 10:29 and then put the icing on the cake for Bethalto when he scored a hat trick just 17 seconds later. Russo and Brayden Emerick assisted on the play.
The Explorers answered with 3:28 remaining in the second period with a shot by Sovar, assisted by Joeseph Boevingloh and Collin Arcynski to make the score 4-2.
"Marquette pushed all night long," Newgent said. "They (Marquette) never give up. We told our guys that whether it's a 4-1 or 5-1 game, they are going to try to do everything they can to get another inch to get themselves back into it. They have strong mentality on the ice and they're well coached. They may have a short bench, but they have a good group of core players."
Bethalto made quick work of the third period when Loewen found Scott in front of the Marquette goal at 7:50 to bury the puck for Scott's second goal of the game for the Eagles. Loewen finished the game with a hat trick and two assists for Bethalto to help close out the series.
The Eagles will have almost a week to rest and practice for the second round of playoffs as they watch the team they will face next battle it out on the ice. Bethalto will face the winner of the EA-WR vs. Jerseyville series on Tuesday, Feb. 17 at 8:45 p.m. at the East Alton Ice Arena in Game 1 of the 1A West Division finals.
BETHALTO 5, MARQUETTE 2
Bethalto SOG: 11 5 9 — 25
PENALTIES — 5 for 26 minutes/ two 10 minute misconducts
Marquette SOG: 4 10 11 — 25
PENALTIES — 0
7:34 — Bethalto Goal-Aaron Scott A-Konnar Loewen, Jayden Kahl
1:01 — Marquette Goal-Jacob Nickel A-Ian Sovar
:18 — Bethalto Goal-Konnar Leowen A-Anthony Russo, Aaron Scott
10:29 — Bethalto Goal-Konnar Loewen A-Colton Hamlett
10:12 — Bethalto Goal-Konnar Loewen A-Anthony Russo, Brayden Emerick
3:28 — Marquette Goal-Ian Sovar A-Joeseph Boevingloh, Collin Arcynski
7:50 — Bethalto Goal-Aaron Scott A-Konnar Loewen