EAST ALTON — Edwardsville head coach Jason Walker needed extra trunk space to take home the MVCHA hardware after his hockey program won both the 1A and 2A championships on Thursday.
The Tigers' 1A hockey team defeated the East Alton-Wood River Oilers 5-2 to complete the two-game sweep followed by the 2A Tigers win over Triad 4-2 to finish another series sweep.
EA-WR owned a 10-game win streak before Edwardsville took a 5-0 win and handed the Oilers their first loss in postseason play on Tuesday. The Oilers had their backs to the wall with the Tigers claws dug in deep when they entered Thursday's championship game at the East Alton Ice Arena.
Edwardsville's Trevor Henson buried two goals and racked up an assist in Thursday's 5-2 championship victory over the Oilers. Bryce Bazzel and Cole Ford scored go-ahead goals for the Oilers, but couldn't hold the Tigers back in the end.
"Tonight was an outstanding game," Walker said. "I think they (Oilers) really stepped up their game big time, like we expected, and our guys had to the do the same. Trevor (Henson) has been one of our big guys this season. We need our big players to step up in game situations like this and he came through. Our goaltender, Matthew Griffin was rock solid back there as always. Every time we need Matt to be big in that goal, he answers the call for us."
The Oilers were the first to strike when the captain Ford found Bazzell, a junior, in front of the Edwardsville net at 8:05 to take a 1-0 lead over the Tigers.
EA-WR didn't have time to celebrate before John Paul Krekovich took a set-up from Stanley Lucas and James Akeman to tie the score at 1-1 at 6:28.
Showing determination, Ford drove the puck the length of the ice to knock in a solo shot at 4:52 to retake the lead, but woke the giant in the process.
Oiler junior Chris Hamby was sent to the penalty box at 3:10 for unsportsmanlike conduct when ice sprayed from his skates as he drove the Edwardsville net, giving the Tigers their first power play of the game.
The Tigers capitalized on the one-man advantage when Trevor Henson tied the game 2-2 at 1:55, assisted by Lucas Tucker and Logan Bielicke, bringing the first period to a close.
"Things were much better for us tonight," EA-WR head coach John Helmcamp said. "We played our hearts out. We always tell them they have to leave it all on the ice, even if you lose. I don't want the guys to come back to the locker room and say they could've given it more. I know every one of the guys gave it all they had out there. I can't ask for more."
The Oilers scoring surge would end in the first period, but the sleeping giant of Edwardsville was awoken.
With just over a minute burned in the second period, the Tigers scored the go-ahead goal when Tucker and Bielicke found Henson in front of the net. Henson punched his second goal of the game past Oiler goaltender Blake Stone to take a 3-2 lead at 11:54.
The Tigers gave the Oilers a power play opportunity when Connor Stewart was sent to the box for interference at 8:56, but EA-WR was not able to score and Edwardsville killed off the penalty.
The Oilers pressured the Tigers, but Griffin was able to keep the stoplight in the Oilers lane throughout the second period. Christian Blandina gave Edwardsville the insurance goal at 6:00 with assists by Reilly Patton and Bielicke to make it 4-2.
Tucker buried a goal, assisted by Stewart and Henson at 2:15 to close the second period for the Tigers with a 5-2 advantage and to seal the victory for Edwardsville to take the 1A MVCHA title. The Oilers and Tigers had a scoreless standoff in the third period with emotions running high in the final minutes.
"We played a lot better tonight than we did Tuesday," EA-WR assistant captain Seth Chester said. "We came out flat in Game 1 and didn't have a good feeling about it. Tonight we came out pumped up and we left it all out there. We didn't have certain situations go our way, but I'm proud we didn't give up. Edwardsville brings an Army, that's for sure. They have over 60 guys to split over different divisions. They keep on coming and have strong lines to go through. Edwardsville is a good team and they have the numbers, it's hard to beat that, but we didn't quit."
The Oilers were forced to settle with back-to-back years of earning the 1A West Division championship and then fighting their way to the finals to leave in the second place spot. Edwardsville took home the MVCHA title trophy in 1A and earned its fourth consecutive MVCHA crown in the 2A division, finishing undefeated in the 2014-2015 season.
Game 2, best-of-three series (Edwardsville wins series 2-0)
EDWARDSVILLE 5, EA-WR 2
EDWARDSVILLE: SOG: 13 8 4 — 25
20 penalty minutes 6/6 on the power play kill
EA-WR: SOG: 7 7 8 — 22
18 penalty minutes 4/5 on power play kill
EAWR — Bryce Bazzell 8:05 (Cole Ford)
E — John Paul Krekovich 6:28 (Stanley Lucas, James Akeman)
EAWR — Ford 4:52 (unassisted)
E — Trevor Henson 1:55 (Lucas Tucker, Logan Bielicke) power play
E — Henson 11:54 (Tucker)
E — Christian Blandina 6:00 (Reilly Patton, Bielicke)
E — Lucas Tucker 2:15 (Connor Stewart, Henson)