EAST ALTON — Although they won the shots on goal battle the Bethalto Eagles still came up short against the Collinsville Kahoks in the championship round of the Class 1A Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association Tuesday at East Alton Ice Arena.
Collinsville defeated Bethalto 6-4 to win the best-of-three series 2-0. The Kahoks defeated the Eagles 6-3 on Monday.
In Tuesday’s game, Bethalto put 33 shots on goal while Collinsville finished with 22. Eagles' coach Derek Kahl talked about the close nature of the contest. The game was tied at one, two and three goals.
“The boys executed well tonight,” Kahl said. “We outshot them, I thought we played a good game tonight. We had a lot of pucks that didn’t bounce our way in front of the net.”
Collinsville coach Doug Levy was happy. He said, “The bounces went our way tonight.”
The Eagles established an early lead with Kirklyn Hansen scoring the first goal at the 11:08 mark of the opening period. Hansen fired off a shot just a few feet north of the goal and the puck flew into the south side of the net. Just four minutes later Collinsville tied it up behind a goal from Cory Sperry. Bethalto’s Konnar Loewen scored with 51 seconds left on the clock to make the score 2-1 Eagles. Bethalto still led 2-1 at the end of the first period.
The Eagles’ lead wouldn’t last long, as Collinsville’s Noah Scrum scored less than a minute into the second period to tie the contest again. Scrum fired a shot approximately 20-feet south of the goal and the puck landed in the north side of the net. The Kahoks’ Kalib Carlyle added another goal with 11:08 left to play to give Collinsville (9-14) a 3-2 lead. However, the tide soon turned, as Bethalto’s Jacoby Robinson netted a goal at the 8:49 mark to tie the score 3-3.
Scrum, who turned in a hat trick in the first game of the series, struck again with 5:27 left to play in the second period to make the score 4-3 Kahoks. Then Bethalto started to challenge Collinsville. The Eagles put six shots on goal in the last five minutes of the period, but Kahoks’ goalkeeper Zach Stenger made life difficult for Bethalto and Collinsville clung to its 4-3 edge at the end of the period.
“He’s been really good at keeping us cool all year long and that played a huge role tonight,” Levy said. “He turned it up a notch and sealed the deal for us.”
Stenger referred to the contest as, “the most stressful game I’ve played all season.”
Bethalto continued to challenge the Kahoks in the first seven minutes of the third period, as it placed four shots on goal to Collinsville’s three. The Kahoks’ Nicolas Hager turned the pressure into results in scoring his first varsity goal of the season with 5:47 left to play in the contest to make the score 5-3 Collinsville.
But the Eagles wouldn’t let the Kahoks’ build any more momentum Anthony Russo scored at the 2:45 mark to put the game back in one-goal range at 5-4.
“One thing I’m proud of is that the boys didn’t give up, they battled until the end,” Kahl said.
The Kahoks’ Jacob Scrum scored with just 1:36 left to play to provide Collinsville with a little more comfort in a 6-4 lead.
Bethalto finished the season with a 12-11 mark. Once the season turned to the 1A portion of the campaign, the Eagles went a flawless 5-0 and garnered the No. 1 seed entering the playoffs. They then ousted rival East Alton-Wood River 2-0 in a best-of-three semifinal series after getting a first-round bye.
“This season is a success in playing as well as we did,” Kahl said. “We came into this series winning seven games in a row. We lost our last two… Going forward, we played good hockey and Collinsville came in hot.”