ICE EAGLES SEASON WRAP-UP
You can close the books another outstanding travel hockey season for the Quad City Ice Eagle Bantam, as they finished the year with an overall record of 35 wins, 9 losses and one tie. The Eagles won the CIHL championship with a 9-1 record, and their record in tournaments was tremendous, winning championship trophies at the Wishbone Tournament at 7 Bridges, the Fire on Ice Classic in Winona and the Spring Fling Tournament at South Bend. In their only other tournament, the Eagles finished second, losing a tough game to Indianapolis in the final.
The success of this team belongs to many individuals starting with the players themselves, who worked hard to achieve some outstanding results. Let’s start with a discussion, by position.
For the first time in his five years, Goalie Brandon Kruse was not called upon to be an “Ironman” in the Eagle cage. Sharing the netminding chores was Brandon Morgan. Both Brandons turned in outstanding seasons, with goal-against averages right around 2.0. This allowed Coach Moon to alternate the pair on a game by game basis, with no dropoff in performance, and also assuring both goalies would be fresh for their starts.
One of the keys to a successful hockey team is to limit the quality scoring chances of the competition, and in that regard, the Eagle defensemen did a great job in helping the goaltenders keep the team goals against average to a shade under 2. Robbie Jacobsen and Jason Corcoran formed one defensive pair, and Brandon Balsar and Chad Dotterer made up the other. Both pairs worked extremely well together. Balsar and Corcoran were more of the stay-at-home type of defensemen, while Jacobsen and Dotterer rushed the puck and got a little more involved in the offense. But the communication between them was good enough that very rarely did the competition have an opportunity for an odd-man rush. And any opposing forward foolish enough to menace either of the Brandons in goal would be made to pay the price!
When you score twice as many goals as you give up, you’re going to have a good season, and certainly the Eagle offense was keyed by some outstanding performances from the forwards. As he has every season, Josh Moon led the team in scoring, proving once again to be the most dominant player we saw all year. What Moon provides for the first line in speed and power, linemate Austin Busch contributes skating and stickhandling skill to the mix. When Will Hegwein was lost to injury, John Carr stepped up to the first line and added the toughness in the corners that every top line needs.
No team could afford to concentrate solely on the Moon line, because the other lines also had good years. Ryne Takacs, Justin Welsh and Mark Muenstermann also provided plenty of fire power and great speed, which surprised a lot of teams, resulting in a number of breakaway goals. The third line of Les Mooney, Tom Parkinson and Jack Hasselbusch, all first year bantams, showed good improvement over the year and will be counted on to provide the scoring leadership for next year’s bantam squad. And oh, yeah, although we only had him with us for two tournaments, Dave Warta provided great speed and skill.
One of the keys to the Eagles’ success this season was the dominance of its penalty-killing unit. When your team scores more goals shorthanded than it gives up, you know your penalty killers are doing the job. When Jerry put Takacs, Moon, Corcoran, Jacobsen or Busch out to kill a penalty, the Eagles had the competition right where they wanted them.
Once again, Head Coach Jerry Moon provided the teaching and the motivation for another great season, highlighted by a high-scoring offense and a tough defense, without the goon tactics that many of our opponents tried. Thanks to Jerry, and his assistants, Kevin “why did you pull the goalie” Takacs and Tim Welsh for all their help throughout the year.
And now, some of my favorite memories of the season:
Best Teams we played:
Worst Goon Squads (or CIHL consolation awards)
The team was treated to a great awards dinner at Huckleberry’s on Tuesday night. Thanks to Bill and Luann Morgan for organizing the party. The coaches were presented with sweaters in appreciation for all of their hard work. And Coach Moon recognized each of his players for their accomplishments and contributions to the team’s success. Over Coach Moon’s four years, the Eagles won more than 130 games.