Photo by Bill Roseberry
EA-WR senior goalie Blake Stone protects the goal on Feb. 8 at the Granite City Ice Rink during Game 2 of the opening round of the MVCHA Class 1A playoffs. The Oilers swept the Warriors 2-0 in the best-of-three series in part because of the return of Stone from injury. EA-WR is 4-0 since Stone’s return.
From the time he suffered an injury during the football season, hockey was on East Alton-Wood River senior Blake Stone’s mind.
“It feels great,” Stone said of his return to hockey. “When I was injured, I thought about nothing but playing hockey. When I found out I was going to make it back to the playoffs, I was really excited.”
Stone broke his tibia and fibula in an EA-WR football game Sept. 29 against Marquette Catholic. The senior did little for two months after the injury and then started the journey back to the rink with physical therapy.
Stone earned his fourth win of the season Monday in a 7-1 victory over Granite City. He also recorded 16 saves in the contest. The goalkeeper spoke of the efforts of his team after the win.
“The whole team just got tons of shots tonight,” Stone said. “But we also had great defense. It was the same thing with the last game, good defense and tons of shots.”
The goalkeeper returned for the first time after his injury Jan. 21 against Highland, as the Oilers turned in an 11-3 win.
“In the first game, I was a little nervous,” he said. “After that I was back to normal.”
He earned another win (9-1) over Granite City Jan. 26 and earned a 4-0 shutout win over Granite City Feb. 4 in Game 1 of the first round of the Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association Class 1A playoffs. The senior gave credit to the play of defensemen Nolan Royse, Cole Ford and Blake Weishaupt.
“I’ll have to give credit to the defense,” he said. “They’re always there to help me out, some of the best defense in the league.”
Stone played four years of varsity football as a running back and outside linebacker and also played baseball his sophomore year.
“Every time I played football I always went in hockey condition,” he said. “They’re both good contact sports and they are both very physical.”
He started playing hockey his freshman year when he heard the club hockey team needed a goalie. During his grade school years he competed in wrestling and gave it up when hockey came calling.
“I decided to come out to practice one day,” Stone said. “Ever since then, I loved it. Hockey was something new and very fun.”
The goalkeeper took little time in establishing himself as a force within the MVCHA, as he earned all-star status in the league as a sophomore and junior.
“It took lots of practice,” he said of playing goalie. “Then Tim Weishaupt was my coach. All summer long I went out on the ice and scrimmaged with guys he used to play hockey with.”
Stone plans on playing in men’s hockey leagues after high school. He plans on attending college next year at Southeast Lineman Training Center in Trenton, Ga.
But before then, Stone and the Oilers will battle the Bethalto Eagles in the second round of the 1A playoffs. Bethalto is the No. 1 seed in the 1A postseason. Game 1 is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Monday at the East Alton Ice Arena.
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