EAST ALTON – Both Bethalto and East Alton-Wood River wanted to get out to good starts in the opening game of their best-of-three Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association Class 1A West Division Final series Tuesday night at East Alton Ice Arena.
It was the Oilers that struck the first blow, and it was a huge one, going out to a 3-0 first-period lead and defeating the Eagles 5-1.
Game 2 of the series will be played at 7:15 p.m. Thursday at East Alton, with a third and deciding game (if necessary) to be played at 8:45 p.m. Monday.
“It was what we wanted,” said Oiler coach John Helmkamp of his team's win, “but it wasn't a normal Bethalto team we played tonight.”
Eagle coach Cory Newgent agreed. “We got way too complacent,” Newgent said. “We had too much spectating and we let them dictate the pace. No excuses; we came out flat. We got things going in the third period, but you can't take two periods off, especially in a playoff game, and expect to win.”
It took a bit for the Oilers to hit the board; they had good chances but couldn't score. It took a power-play goal from Alec Revelle, with Bethalto's Jacoby Robinson off for cross-checking, at 10:13, with Nolan Royse assisting, to put EAWR up 1-0.
Then with Colton Hamlett off for cross-checking, the Oilers' Revelle beat Eagle goalie Alec Hilliard at 11:05 to extend the lead to 2-0, and Tyler McHatten goaled from Tyler Hamby at 12:27 to make it 3-0 in favor of EAWR.
In the second period, the Oilers extended the lead to 4-0 when, with Bryden Emerick off for high-sticking, Cole Ford took a pass from Revelle and scored at 3:09. Nearly a minute later, Blake Weishaupt scored from Ford to make it 5-0, and the Oilers were able to relax from there.
The shutout try for EAWR goalie Blake Stone fell, however, when Aaron Scott scored at 9:18 of the third period.
EAWR outshot Bethalto 33-23 in the game, with Stone making 22 saves and Hilliard turning back 28 shots.
“We didn't play with any urgency,” Newgent said, “and we'll have to do that on Thursday.”
Feeney, 56, is a native of Granite City and graduated from Granite City South in 1978. He was a part-time writer for the old Granite City Journal from 1979-84 before attending Eastern Illinois University in Charleston,
from which he earned his BA in journalism in 1988. He has worked for newspapers in Sikeston, Mo., Rocky Mount, N.C., Seneca, S.C. and in Charleston-Mattoon. He also worked for the old St. Clair County Suburban