Hockey rivals battle to tie

Columbia’s Dylan Lalk and Freeburg-Waterloo’s Logan Ganz battle for the puck Tuesday night. For more photos from the game, click here. (John Spytek photo)

The Freeburg-Waterloo Raging Bulldogs and Columbia Ice Eagles renewed their rivalry in the round-robin portion of the Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association playoffs Tuesday night in East Alton.

The Raging Bulldogs, dressing only eight total players due to a scheduling conflict, battled back from an early 2-0 deficit and the teams played to a 3-3 tie.

Columbia got off to a hot start courtesy of a pair of goals from Kyle Budde. Freeburg-Waterloo got on the board when Evan Unser scored his first varsity goal by knocking in a loose puck in front of the net.

Logan Ganz, who missed the team’s first postseason game last week due to travel hockey national qualifier participation, netted two straight second period goals to give the Raging Bulldogs a 3-2 lead.

Freeburg-Waterloo could not hold the lead, however, as Liam Ellner scored a power play goal for the Ice Eagles with 7:33 remaining in the contest to tie it at 3-3.

Columbia, playing its first MVCHA postseason game of the shortened season, outshot Freeburg-Waterloo on the night, 30-14.

“It was a heck of a game for the eight players that we had,” Raging Bulldogs head coach Scotty Roberts said. “We were still missing numerous players because of a scheduling conflict caused by the MVCHA.”

Roberts explained that Missouri national qualifying games are currently being played to see which travel team from Missouri will advance to nationals.

“Missouri hockey told all participating teams to schedule national qualifier games around the MVCHA schedule, so that is what was done. Then the MVCHA changed our schedule a week ago. This caused a scheduling conflict with the Affton 15U and Affton 16U game, which I had four players on those teams,” a frustrated Roberts said.

Roberts explained that he contacted the MVCHA board president to change his team’s game time with the other MVCHA teams playing Tuesday, but he refused to do so.

“Even with all four MVCHA teams playing (Tuesday) agreeing to swap game times, the president would not allow this,” Roberts said. “The MVCHA tournament is supposed to be about the kids, but he clearly wasn’t working for the kids. We still squeaked out a tie, which we will gladly accept considering the situation we were put in by the league president.”

The MVCHA varsity league consists of two six-team conferences playing a round-robin schedule. After five round-robin games, the top three teams in each conference advance to the playoffs.

The MVCHA playoffs will be played in a best-of-three series format, with all games at the East Alton Ice Arena.

The Raging Bulldogs and Ice Eagles are in the same conference along with O’Fallon, Belleville, Collinsville and Edwardsville East.

Freeburg-Waterloo is 0-1-1 after having lost to Belleville to open postseason play. The Raging Bulldogs battle Edwardsville on Thursday.

Columbia plays next Tuesday against Edwardsville.

For photos from Tuesday’s rivalry clash, click here.

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