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EAST ALTON – Bethalto's Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association team ended the first part of the MVCHA's regular season in style Thursday night.
Especially the Eagles' Nolan Kahl.
Kahl had five goals for Bethalto, three on the power play, as the Eagles defeated East Alton-Wood River 13-1 in a game shortened by the MVCHA's 12-goal rule at East Alton Ice Arena; the win brought the Eagles to 4-9-3 on the season (11 points) while the Oilers fell to 1-15 (two points) with the league's split into two divisions for the remainder of the season coming.
The 12-team league had each team play 16 games against each other in a one-division format through Thursday night's games; the league will be split into two divisions, with the top six teams – Freeburg/Waterloo, Columbia, O'Fallon, Granite City, Collinsville and Highland – being placed in Class 2A, while the bottom six teams – Belleville, Edwardsville, Bethalto, Triad, Alton and EAWR – being placed in Class 1A.
The teams will play each other one more time in each division to determine the final standings, with the two divisions conducting their own playoffs in February; the top two teams in each division will get first-round byes while the No. 3 team will face the No. 6 team and the No. 4 team will play the No. 5 team in the opening round in each division, with the 3-6 winner facing the No. 1 team and the 4-5 winner playing the No. 2 team in the division semifinals; the two winners will play each other for the division titles in the finals. All playoff encounters are best-of-three series.
As far as Thursday's win went, Eagle assistant coach Derek Kahl said “it was a nice win; the good thing going into the 1A-2A split, it puts us solidly where we want to be at in the 1A bracket coming off three wins in a row in our last three games going into the split is a good thing for us.
“We're starting to get the confidence; there are a few things tonight that we need to work on in practice before we get back to business.”
Nolan Kahl's five-goal performance was part of a very good team effort for the Eagles on the night, Derek Kahl felt. “Nolan can put the puck in the net, but we've got other support that's figured out they can put the puck in the net when they need to,” Derek Kahl said.
“They (Bethalto) came out ready to play,” said Oiler coach Tim Weishaupt. “He (Nolan Kahl) got quite a few goals; he was working the puck and had some unassisted goals, we just couldn't quite catch up to him. The penalties we had didn't help us tonight.”
The Oilers came into the season as a very young team. “We have a lot of new guys on the team this year,” Weishaupt said. “We've had some injuries and we got some guys back tonight.”
Kahl scored his team's first three goals of the game, all coming on the power play, to put the Eagles up 3-0 before Issac Lewis scored the only Oiler goal of the game on a nice wraparound to the left of Eagle goaltender Dale Papp late in the period. Clark Sasek had three goals in the second period for the Eagles as part of a six-goal outburst that also saw Kahl's fourth goal and goals from Anthony Casalino and William Halwachs to stretch the lead to 10-1. The final three goals of the game came from Sam Buller, Ethan Booth and from Kahl to bring the game to an end with 9:27 left in the third period.
Bethalto had 28 shots on goal on the night while the Oilers put 10 shots on goal. The schedule for the second portion of the MVCHA season will be announced by the league and put on the league's web site, mvchahockey.org.
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