EAST ALTON — The Granite City Warrior hockey team certainly made every shot count in Monday night’s Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association contest against the East Alton-Wood River Oilers at the East Alton Ice Arena.
The Oilers (0-3) placed 26 shots on goal to the Warriors' 23 shots. However, Granite City (1-2) prevailed 8-6. The contest was played on both sides of the rink in the first period and EA-WR placed nine shots on goal to Granite City’s four, but neither team scored.
The Warriors started to challenge the Oilers at the end of the first period and continued to control the momentum in the early minutes of the second period. Riley Brown scored the Warriors' first goal a little under a minute into the second period. Brown’s goal proved to be an icebreaker, as Brylie Hassard scored less than a minute later to make the score 2-0 Granite City and Brown struck again with 9:16 left to play in the second period to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead. Oilers coach John Helmkamp said his team suffered from a lack of urgency in the early going.
“We had a five on three at the end of the first period that we didn’t score on,” Helmkamp said. “They came out with the momentum from killing that and really took it to us in the second. That was a big turning point in the game. At that point we had outshot them 11-4 and not scoring on the five on three was rough.”
Assistant Granite City coach John Kuchar acted as head coach in head coach Frank Parker’s absence.
“We want every shot to count,” Kuchar said. “We knew we had to put a lot on and we wanted to crash the net to make those shots worthwhile. That’s something we focused on and we wanted to make those count.”
EA-WR started to show some life with Blake Weishaupt’s goal with 8:48 left to play in the second period. With several players swarming around him, Weishaupt fired off a shot just feet from the goal that found the back of the net and cut the score to 3-1.
But Granite City seemed undeterred and continued to build on its’ lead, as goals from Pavol Hutchins, Isiah Hensley and Alec Marshall gave the Warriors a 6-1 advantage with 4:21 left to play in the second period, their biggest lead of the night.
“We knew what we weren’t doing which was getting our shots on the net,” Kuchar said on the Warriors’ surge. “We were allowing our defenseman to stop us before we could get good shots. So, we wanted to make the focus getting the shot on and getting a rebound in the second period. I think that was really effective for us.”
Nolan Royse scored the Oilers’ second goal with 30 ticks left on the clock in the second period to cut Granite City’s lead to 6-2.
The first four minutes of the third period featured a flurry of scoring. Cole Ford, who led East Alton-Wood River with three goals, scored just two minutes into the third period to make the score 6-3 Warriors. However, the Oilers had trouble sustaining momentum and Granite City’s Hutchins scored with 11:31 to play. Ford answered with another score at the 11:17 mark to make the score 7-4 Warriors.
It looked as if the Oilers might claw back late in the contest with a goal from Caleb Harrad with 9:07 left to play and another goal from Ford with 1:26 left to play to cut Granite City’s lead to one goal at 7-6. However, Granite City’s Darian Glen scored a goal with 37 seconds remaining in the third period to secure his team a win.
“Before I even took this team, that character was already in them,” Helmkamp said on his team’s stand. “They always come back and play hard, they work hard and they never think they’re out of it. I wish I could model that and sell it because you can’t teach that.”
EA-WR returns to action at 7:15 p.m. Thursday vs. Edwardsville at the East Alton Ice Arena, while the Warriors next battle the Tigers at 7:15 p.m. Monday in East Alton.