SOUTH BEND, IN – MARCH 5, 2000
The Quad City Ice Eagle Bantam travel team wrote a final glorious chapter to their 1999-2000 season Sunday afternoon by winning the Spring Fling Hockey Tournament at Notre Dame with a hard-fought and convincing 4-0 shutout of the Peoria Rivermen. The tournament title was the Eagles’ third in four tries, as they added the Spring Fling championship to earlier wins at Winona and Seven Bridges. The four wins over the weekend improved the Eagles final record to a phenomenal 35-9-1. Stories on each of the four games follow.
The Eagles arrived at the Notre Dame ACC expecting to play the Crystal Lake team that they had beaten 5-0 back in December, but in fact it was the Crystal Lake Bantam bronze division team rather than the silver division team who entered this tournament. Since they had easily beaten the silver team, the Eagles probably felt that a game against a team from the lower bronze league would be an easy win. How wrong that would turn out to be! Although the Eagles looked like the faster, stronger team, Crystal Lake did a good job of disrupting the Eagle breakout plays, and the game remained scoreless until midway through the second period when Crystal Lake broke on top with a breakaway goal. Falling behind seemed to wake up the Eagles because less than a minute later, Justin Welsh tied the game after taking a pass from linemate Dave Warta. The game remained deadlocked until midway through the final period when Center Josh Moon beat the defense and went in alone to score on a wrist shot. Two minutes later Moon made it 3-1, with assists going to Brandon Balsar and Austin Busch, and the fans relaxed thinking the game was safely in the bag. But Crystal Lake scored less than a minute later to cut the gap to 3-2. But they could not get the equalizer and the Eagles advanced to their second round matchup against the Pettit Bulldogs from Milwaukee. For the game, the Eagles outshot Crystal Lake only 18-17, with Goalie Brandon Kruse making 15 saves.
The Crystal Lake coach later told Jerry that the Silver division team will not play the Bronze team because the Bronze team is much better. The Eagles would surely agree.
The Eagles moved to the South Bend Ice Box for their second tournament game against the Pettit Bulldogs from Milwaukee. They had routed Aurora in their first game. It did not take the Eagles long to jump in front. On the game’s first shift, John Carr scored from the slot after being set up by linemates Busch and Moon. That was to be all of the scoring for the first period, but the Eagles enjoyed a big edge in shots and territorial play. The Eagles increased their lead to 2-0 at 3:53 of the second period on a goal by Austin Busch, set up by Robbie Jacobsen and Jason Corcoran. The third line got into the scoring when Mark Muenstermann scored at 7:08, but Jack Hasselbusch picking up the helper. Then the Eagle penalty kill unit went to work and scored the first of what would be three shorthanded tallies. Busch scored his second of the game, assisted by Moon to run the lead to 4-0 after two periods.
Milwaukee got on the board at 2:06 of the third, ruining Goalie Brandon Morgan’s attempt for a shutout. But the goal seemed to incite the Eagles who finished out the game with four more unanswered goal. Hasselbusch scored from Welsh at 4:46. Josh Moon scored the first of his two shorthanded goals at 6:42, assisted by John Carr. And after Ryne Takacs made it 7-1, assisted by Welsh and Moon, Josh finished the scoring at 10:24 picking up a pass from Corcoran to make the final 8-1.
Sunday morning’s game matched up the 2-0 Eagles with the 0-2 Aurora Cyclones in what would prove to be the biggest blowout of the season. To Aurora’s credit, they managed to keep the puck out of their net until the 10:52 mark, when Takacs put the Eagles ahead on assists from Brandon Balsar and Justin Welsh. But the second period was a different story. Five different QC players scored to run the lead to 6-0. First was Austin Busch, assists going to Moon and Chad Dotterer at 6:30. Nineteen seconds later it was Welsh, from Takacs and Dave Warta. Defenseman Dotterer added the fourth goal at 9:14, with assists going to Busch and Carr. David Warta got into the goal column at 10:36, with Takacs and Welsh assisting, and 25 seconds later, the same line combined with Takacs scoring the goal and Warta and Welsh getting the assists. After two periods, the Eagles had outshot Aurora 30-0.
In the third period, the Eagles scored practically at will. Defenseman Robbie Jacobsen scored a pair of goals, as did Josh Moon. Ryne Takac scored his second of the contest. The other goals were registered by John Carr and Les Mooney, who capped the scoring with 45 seconds left. The shot on goal underlined the mismatch: Eagles 45, Aurora only 3. Brandon Kruse got his sixth shutout of the season.
Well, as the old saying goes…”Familiarity breeds Contempt.” And the Eagles were very familiar with the opponent in Sunday afternoon’s championship game – the Peoria Rivermen, who had already played (and lost) three games to the Ice Eagles earlier this season.
It was obvious from watching the pre-game warmup that both teams really wanted this one. It was Defenseman Robbie Jacobsen, who had a very strong tournament, who put the Eagles on top late in the first period when he blasted a low slap shot from the right point. Justin Welsh got the assist on the goal. The Eagle defense held the Rivermen to only one shot in the period, making life relatively easy from Brandon Morgan.
Josh Moon gave the Eagles a two-goal edge at 3:04 of the second, with assists going to Busch and Balsar. That was the only scoring, but the officials were busy as the game got chippier as the game went along. With Peoria, no surprise. Ryne Takacs made it 3-0 early in the third, when he deflected Corcoran’s shot from the left point. Dave Warta iced the scoring when he added the fourth goal of the game at 8:01, with Takacs and Moon getting the assists.
The balance of the game was an exercise is keeping your head up, as the dirty play escalated, with Peoria being called for 12 penalties and the Eagles nailed for 8. When the clock ticked down to 0:00, Goalie Morgan had his third shutout of the season, and the Eagles had completed another tournament sweep. For the game, Peoria had a total of four shots on goal, or in other words, one shot for every penalty picked up by Peoria’s Seth Leitner.