EAST ALTON – A quick getaway and fast finish worked wonders Thursday for the Alton Redbirds’ hockey team.
The Redbirds needed both components to defeat rival Marquette, 4-2 in a MVCHA game at the East Alton Ice Arena. Alton improved to 4-0, while Marquette fell to 0-2.
“Marquette played a good game and they came ready to play,” Alton coach Abram Henson said. “We came out lucky in the game.”
Jake Cunningham and Kain Henson made sure the Redbirds experienced enough good fortune. Henson scored a first period goal and assisted on Cunningham’s tie-breaking goal early in the third period.
“Kain is our captain, and he and Jake are two of our leaders,” coach Henson said.
Alton led 2-0 after the first period before Marquette tied it in the second period. Then the Redbirds responded with a pair of third-period goals.
“That second period was our best period in two years,” Explorers’ coach John Dumoulin said. “Overall, we didn’t give up and hung together and kept skating to the end.”
Henson said, “I think we were a little complacent and Marquette played well."
Zach Campbell gave the Redbirds a 1-0 lead when he scored at 8:26. Tyler St. Peters and Jake Bohn assisted on it. Then Kain Henson punched home an unassisted goal at 2:24.
The Explorers, trailing 2-0, found new life in the second period. Tyler Jackson scored at 10:04, with Ian Sovar assisting on it. Teammate Connor Jones knotted things at 6:54. Collin Arcynski and Jackson assisted on that goal.
“Jackson is our sniper,” Dumoulin said.
By the start of the third period, the Redbirds regrouped. Cunningham’s goal, just 1 minute, 40 seconds into it, ignited them. Then Scotty Waldrup scored unassisted at 8:19, giving Alton a pair of goal in just over three minutes.
And the Redbirds, who outscored their first three opponents by a 26-0 margin, retained their winning ways. They outshot Marquette, 38-21, but the Explorers didn’t buckle.
“We had some rough spots last season, but we are starting to figure it out now,” Dumoulin said.
As for the Redbirds, they are striving for bigger and better things. Alton competes in the 2A North, while Marquette is cast in the 1A West.
“I think we are contenders,” coach Henson said. “I expect – in all honesty – that we can win it all. Edwardsville will be our biggest challenger.
“But we can’t overlook anybody or play soft. We have to come out and play hard in every game.”
ALTON 4, MARQUETTE 2
Marquette 0 2 0 – 2
Alton 2 0 2 – 4
A – Campbell (St. Peters, Bohn), 8:26
A – Henson (unassisted), 2:24
M – Jackson (Sovar), 10:04
M – Jones (Arcynski, Jackson), 6:54
A – Cunningham (Henson), 11:20
A – Waldrup (unassisted), 8:19
Shots: Alton 38, Marquette 21
Saves: Harder (Marquette) 34, Klug (Alton) 19