Andrew Watts took advantage of a golden opportunity to give Triad the lead with :09 to play and Logan Teater made 24 of 25 saves as Triad beat Edwardsville for the MVCHA Class1A hockey title.
“There was a play in front of the net and the goalie went down to cover the puck. it was sitting next to the glove and Drew Watts poked it in the net for the go ahead goal,” said coach Pat Culiberk.
That late score was the second of the period for the Knights. Ethan McFarland would net his 43rd goal on an empty-netter with .01 to play.
Edwardsville had the better of the play for much of the initial two periods. The Tigers eventually took a 1-0 lead at the 4:26 mark of the 2nd period on a goal by Thomas Papa. Luke Bowen has the assist.
“We lost one of our forwards Zack Davis to injury early in the first. He did not return. The offense was flat while we tried different line combos. Thru the second we were out shot 21-14. Teater kept us in the game, the only goal he gave up was on the power play. The team found their game in the third outshooting Edwardsville 14-4,” said Triad club hockey president Mike Rynes.
Triad got going seconds into that 3rd period on a goal by Daniel Verhaar at the 13:21 mark. He was assisted by Watts and McFarland.
Meanwhile Teater was busy holding up the back end of the Knights defense.
“Teater gets MVP for his performance for this game. We were so flat and trying to do everything ourselves, not what we’re capable of,” said Culiberk.
Game Two: Triad 6 Edwardsville 1
Facing elimination in the finals series, the Knights scored the first five goals of the game to force a deciding game three.
“We outshot them 25-8 in the first two periods. We had to change what we were doing from the first game and then adjust again for the third period of this game,” said Culiberk.
Triad opened the scoring at the McKendree Metro Rec Plex when McFarland scored his first of three goals on the evening at the 8:15 mark of the 1st period. Jaxson Tscheulin and Garrison Reed had the assists.
A scant :13 later Davis scored an unassisted goal to make it 2-0 Triad.
Tscheulin scored the opening goal in the 2nd period off an assist from Jacob Parres.
At the 5:26 mark of the second, Verhaar put one in the back of the net courtesy of an assist from Watts.
McFarland scored again with 4:58 left in the second period. Tscheulin came up with the assist.
After Edwardsville scored, McFarland recorded his seventh hat trick of the year with a power play goal at the :42 mark of the third.
He had 42 goals on the season after that game.
For the game, Triad outshot the Tigers 29-15.
Teater was again in goal for the Knights making 14 saves and only giving up a power play goal.
“We had the first forward back and cut down their percentage of offensive zone time. Drew Watts gets the star of the game for his defensive work as a center,” Culiberk said.
Game One: Edwardsville 4 Triad 1
The Tigers ripped off three consecutive goals in the 2nd period to break a 1-1 deadlock and take a 1-0 series lead in the MVCHA Class 1A finals at the East Alton Ice Arena.
Verhaar found the back of the net with it at the 8:59 mark to give Triad a 1-0 lead. Watts picked up the assist.
The rest of the game was all Tigers as they scored four unanswered goals.
Culiberk’s Thoughts on the Season
“It was a great way to wrap up a season with a come from behind win. Thanks to Edwardsville for the good competition. We started out this season dedicating it to Paige Stelzer’s loss of her father over the summer Brian Stelzer. All the team had stickers on their helmets ‘BWS’ in his memory. Jake Parres lost his dad mid season as well. That kept our good fortunes in perspective. We had more than our share of ups and downs but a great team to coach overall. We’ll have fun with these back to back varsity championships! And have some good talent coming next year as well. The future looks good for Triad Hockey,” Culiberk said.
Photos By Julie Verhaar