GRANITE CITY — Konnar Loewen and Jayden Kahl have established themselves as the Bethalto Eagles' scoring weapons all year long and Monday's contest with the Granite City Warriors at Wilson Park Ice Rink in Granite City was a perfect example.
Loewen, a junior, turned in his fifth hat trick of the season with four goals in the 11-1 win and Kahl turned in a hat trick of his own with three goals.
Loewen scored two goals in the latter part of the first period, with 3:22 and 1:59 left to play. Like many of the Eagles' goals in the contest, the second one was scored just feet from the goal. Positioning toward the goal played a key role in the victory.
“It's just about getting to the net and being in position,” Loewen said. “The defense did a good job of getting close to the net and getting rebounds.”
He scored his third goal early in the second period to make the score 8-0 with 12:39 left to play and the fourth in the third period with 6:55 left to play.
The Eagles wasted no time in establishing dominance, as Kirkland Hansen scored less than a minute into the first period. Bethalto continued to control the puck in the first period and led 7-0 at the end of the period. Joseph Watson and Anthony Russo scored goals and Kahl netted two.
“We went all out in the first period,” Bethalto coach Derek Kahl said. “We jumped out 7-0. It seemed like everything we threw at the net went in.”
Derek Kahl also mentioned Bethalto's effectiveness next to the goal.
“We've been working a lot in practice here lately in getting to the net,” he said. “The pretty goals aren't always the good ones. You have to get some garbage on the rebounds.”
The Eagle defenders also regularly returned the puck to the other side of the rink. Coach Kahl talked about the effectiveness of senior Justin Wendle and juniors Jayden Kahl, Brendan Bollini and Jacoby Robinson.
“They've been playing together for three years and they're very good at moving the puck to the open side,” Derek Kahl said. “And they're very good at moving the puck to the open side. We work a lot on using the weak side of the ice because it's always open for us.”
The play was more even in the in the second period, as both teams regularly made their way up and down the rink. Loewen scored his third goal late in the second and Jacob Cochran saved the Warriors' from suffering a shutout loss by scoring with 1:51 to play in the second. Watson scored his second goal early in the third period with 12:03 left to play and Loewen's last goal made the score 11-1.
The shots on goal were closer than the score, as Bethalto (11-9) placed 35 shots on goal and the Warriors (3-17) had 21. Justin Meyer played goalkeeper for the Eagles in the contest. Derek Kahl said that Meyer “played a wonderful game.”
Granite City coach Frank Parker talked about his team's youth.
“We have a hard working group of kids, but they're very young,” Parker said. “But we're also going through some growing pains. Our junior varsity squad has 11 wins and we're looking forward to the future and returning to old-style Granite City hockey.”
The Warriors wrap up Class 1A pool play at 8:15 p.m. tonight vs. East Alton-Wood River in Granite City. Bethalto next battles Collinsville at 8:45 p.m. Thursday at the East Alton Ice Arena.
At the end of the week seeds will be determined for the postseason to begin. Both Granite City and Bethalto will be cast in the 1A pool.