It’s almost time for playoff hockey

From left, Raging Bulldogs players Michael Gildehaus and Donovan Knuckles celebrate a goal during a game earlier this season. 

With the regular season soon coming to a close, both local club hockey teams are in prime position for deep postseason runs. 

Sitting in first place in the Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association Varsity East standings are the Freeburg-Waterloo Raging Bulldogs, who picked up two more recent victories. 

On Monday night, the Raging Bulldogs picked up an 8-6 win over Collinsville. Mathew Bushee made 30 saves in the victory and the scoring combo of Logan Ganz and Donovan Knuckles came through again. 

Ganz recorded two goals and three assists; Knuckles had three goals and two assists.

On Thursday, Freeburg-Waterloo won 13-4 over Highland. Ganz scored five goals, Knuckles scored three goals with an assist and Conner Blair scored three goals with two assists.

Ganz, a senior, leads the MVCHA in scoring this season with 61 goals and 47 assists.

The Raging Bulldogs (20-2-1) have scored the most goals in the league and have outscored their opponents by an overall total of 195-61.

Freeburg-Waterloo played Edwardsville East on Tuesday, winning 11-3, and will take on East Alton-Wood River on Monday to close out the regular season. Ganz scored five more goals in Tuesday’s win, which was senior night.

Sitting in second place in the MVCHA Varsity East standings, along with Belleville, are the Columbia Ice Eagles. 

Columbia won three recent games to improve to 15-3-5 on the season. 

On Thursday, the Ice Eagles easily defeated Edwardsville East, 11-0. Jack Reuss scored three goals with an assist. Nathan Carr also netted a hat trick. Rece Sanderson and Collin Schmidt each tallied a goal and three assists.

Last Tuesday, Columbia pulled out a 2-1 victory over Vianney. Sanderson and Carr scored the goals and goalie Tim Barbee made 19 saves.

Barbee (9-1-5) is among the top goaltenders in the MVCHA with a 1.67 goals against average, .932 save percentage and three shutouts.

Leading the Ice Eagles in scoring this season are Dean Lyon (14 goals, 20 assists) and Reuss (24 goals, nine assists).

Columbia battled Highland on Tuesday night, winning 7-4, and will conclude its regular season Thursday night against Bethalto.

Reuss and Lyon each recorded hat tricks in Tuesday’s win over Highland.

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