The Freeburg-Waterloo Raging Bulldogs advanced to the Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association Varsity 2A finals with a 6-3 win in a deciding Game 3 semifinal showdown with Collinsville on Thursday night.
The Raging Bulldogs forced a third game by virtue of a 7-2 victory Tuesday night. For more on that game, click here.
Logan Ganz and Donovan Knuckles each recorded hat tricks and Nick Mumford dished out four assists for the Raging Bulldogs in Thursday’s win. Ganz added three assists and Knuckles had two assists.
Freeburg-Waterloo outshot Collinsville 40-19 on the night.
“Collinsville was missing some key players but we knew the players they had were gonna give it everything they had,” Raging Bulldogs head coach Scotty Roberts said. “We capitalized on our opportunities.”
The game was tied 1-1 midway through the first period, but Freeburg-Waterloo scored to take a slim 2-1 lead entering the second period despite dominating the pace of play.
The Raging Bulldogs led 4-2 after two periods and were sent to the penalty box twice at the beginning of the third period as the game turned physical.
“The game got very physical toward the end as Collinsville’s emotions were coming out,” Roberts said. “They battled hard up until the very end.”
A shorthanded goal put the Raging Bulldogs up 5-2, however, ending any glimmer of hope for Collinsville.
Up next for Freeburg-Waterloo is a best-of-three championship series against the MVCHA’s top seed, Granite City, which has won 18 straight games.
“They have a lot of firepower and arguably the best player in the league, Hunter Parker,” Roberts said.
Granite City went 21-1-2 during the regular season and swept Belleville in the semifinals.
Freeburg-Waterloo went 21-3 in the regular season and split its two games against Granite City.
“The game we lost (on Dec. 30), we were actually winning 2-0 in the second period,” Roberts said. “I think if we come out and play our game the way the boys and girls can, it will make for a very exciting series. Either team can win it.”
Roberts said his team will have to stay disciplined and limit its mistakes if it wants to win the league title.
“We have eight seniors and I know they want to go out on top and will be ready to play come Monday night,” he said.
Game 1 of the MVCHA Varsity 2A finals is 7:30 p.m. Monday in East Alton. Game 2 is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in East Alton. Game 3, if necessary, would be 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the McKendree Metro Rec Plex in O’Fallon.
Ganz scored 29 goals and had 17 assists in the regular season for the Raging Bulldogs and has five goals and four assists so far in the playoffs.
Parker was second in the MVCHA in scoring this regular season with 42 goals and 47 assists for Granite City.
For photos from Thursday’s game, which are available for purchase as high-quality prints, click here.