EAST ALTON — The East Alton-Wood River/Roxana hockey team clinched first place on Thursday in the MVCHA 1A West following a 2-0 victory over Bethalto at the East Alton ice arena.
The Oilers improved their record to 7-5-4 and lead the division with 18 points, while the Eagles dropped to 6-8-2 with a strong hold on second place with 14 points.
"The last time we played Bethalto, we spent a lot of time in the penalty box," EA-WR head coach John Helmcamp said. "We are a different team than we were at the beginning of the year. We've only had a total of five penalties in the last three games. I'm proud of our team for a lot of things tonight, but the thing I'm proud of the most is our self discipline in this game."
The game remained scoreless until EA-WR senior Seth Chester found the back of the net off an assist by senior Alex Revelle with 3:14 remaining in the first period.
Bethalto came out with a physical game plan to draw penalties and to work the power play, but found itself in the penalty box. The Oilers collected nine shots on goal and limited the Eagles' opportunities to just four shots.
"Tonight both teams were short-handed when it came to our big goal scorers," Bethalto head coach Corey Newgent said. "Wood River was missing guys like Cole Ford and Tyler McHatton and we were missing three guys tonight. Our two teams are so evenly matched, I told the guys that the team with the fewer penalty minutes would win the game. Wood River had one fewer penalties than we did and they took the win. We knew this game would be about any inch you can gain, that's what we were looking to do."
The scoreboard remained 1-0 throughout the second period with strong performances by EA-WR junior Blake Stone and Bethalto junior Alex Hilliard in goal.
The Oilers sealed the deal in the third period with an insurance goal by senior Brandon Bailey off an assist by Bryce Bazzell with 5:48 remaining to give EA-WR a 2-0 victory over their neighboring rival.
"This win feels really good," Stone said of his second shutout win of the season. "I've worked really hard this season to improve, but I couldn't have any success without my team in front of me. Everyone worked really hard tonight and we did our best. I had a solid defense in front of me and were able to limit Bethalto's shots. Our offense was on and able to get the job done, we won this game as a team."
The Oilers will drop the puck against Granite City on Monday, Jan. 19 at 8:45 p.m. at East Alton Ice Arena. Bethalto will get an extra day of rest before facing off with Highland on Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 7:15, also at the East Alton Ice Arena.
EA-WR/ROXANA 2, BETHALTO 0
Shots on goal 9-13-11 — 33
First period: 3:14 Goal-Seth Chester Assist-Alec Revelle
penalty:10:07 Alec Revelle-Interference 2:00
Second period: 11:11 Blake Weishaupt-Interference 2:00
Third period: 5:48 Goal-Brandon Bailey Assist-Bryce Bazzell
Penalty:10:09 Seth Chester-Holding 2:00
Shots on goal 4-6-7 — 17
First period: Penalties: 12:11 Justin Wendle-Interference 2:00
6:02 Alec Hilliard-Interference 2:00
Second period: Penalty: 9:25 Anthony Russo-high sticking 2:00
Third period: Penalty: 9:30 Jacoby Robinson-roughing 2:00