Crystal Biscuit Tournament -- Chesterfield
The Quad City Bantam Ice Eagles finished off their exciting 98-99 season with a fourth place finish in the 1999 Crystal Biscuit tournament held this past weekend at the hockey complex at Chesterfield, Missouri. Among the lessons learned during this final weekend of the season: 1) a heavy snow warning doesn't really mean much in St. Louis , and 2) there are a couple of pretty darn good Bantam A squads from the state of Texas. After sweeping through the first day of play with two excellent wins, the Eagles lost twice on Sunday, dropping the bracket final to Houston, and then defeated in the third place game against Dallas. The details on this last tourney of the year follow.
Given a break by the tournament schedulers, the Eagles did not have to play their first game until 1:30 on Saturday afternoon, which meant that most of the team was able to drive down on Saturday morning. The first game opponent was Creve Coeur, a bantam team made up entirely of first year players. The Eagles broke on top when Ryne Takacs scored midway through the first period, assisted by John Carr. Later in the first, Dave Warta set up Austin (Scrubby) Busch for the second goal, and the Eagles were on their way. Early in the second period, John Carr, positioned along the right boards, threaded a pass through about four players right onto Ryne Takacs' stick just to the goalie's right. Ryne one-timed it past the Creve Coeur netminder to increase the lead to three. Early in the third period, after Creve Coeur had scored to make the score 3-1, Chad Dotterer beat the defenseman with a quick move, and then picked the lower left corner to give the Eagles an insurmountable lead at 4-1.
Josh Moon picked up a pair of third period goals, one assisted by Busch and the other unassisted to make the final score 6-1. Quad Cities outshot Creve Coeur 40-21, with Goalie Brandon Kruse allowing just one goal.
The second game of the tournament for the Eagles had them slated to play one of the host teams, the Chesterfield A1 Falcons, who had already shut out Creve Coeur 6-0. The Falcons put the pressure on the Eagles immediately, scoring a go-ahead goal midway through the first period. But the Eagles' top line of Busch, Reuter and Moon roared back with three unanswered goals to put the Eagles in front. First Grant Reuter knocked in a rebound of Busch's shot, and then "Scrubby" scored, with Josh Moon picking up helpers on both goals. Then Moon got into the act, scoring his first of the game, assisted by Busch. Before the end of the period, Chesterfield responded with a long slap shot, from just inside the blue line that beat a screened Kruse to the glove side. A very entertaining period of hockey ended with the Eagles up 3-2.
The second period was scoreless, but the intensity picked up with both teams handing out some heavy checks. As the third period started, it was Ryne Takacs who scored the critical goal to rebuild the lead to two, with John Carr getting the only assist. Josh Moon then scored his second of the game and fourth of the day with a booming slap shot to make the final score 5-2, and set up a critical game Sunday morning with Houston. The Eagles outshot Chesterfield 25-22.
Needing only a tie to advance to the championship game, the Eagles took the ice against Houston for a 7:15 Sunday morning contest on the big Olympic rink. Although the game remained scoreless for the first half of the first period, the bigger Flyer team was controlling play, and handing out some hard hits. About six minutes in, Houston took the lead on a screen shot from the slot. The Eagles were having a lot of problems clearing the zone, and before the end of the period, Houston had added two more goals for a 3-0 lead.
When the Flyers added a fourth goal early in the middle period, it looked very grim for the Eagles. The only bright spot of the game for QC came when Grant Reuter stickhandled through the defense and beat the Houston goalie to cut the margin to 4-1. But a few minutes later, the Flyers caught the Eagles on a line change and broke in on a two-on-one break. Kruse made the initial save, but the trailing forward knocked in the rebound to make the score 5-1, and kill off any chance for a comeback.
Houston added an exclamation point to the win by scoring three more goals in the third, while holding the Eagles without a single shot on goal.
With the championship now out of the question, the Eagles could have quit when they faced off in the third place game against a very tough Dallas Stars team, which had actually finished ahead of Houston in their Texas league. But the Eagles came out determined to work hard in their final game of the year. The first period was one of the best of the year, with Dallas enjoying an edge in play, but with the Eagles working hard on every shift as the first period ended scoreless. Brandon Kruse was playing some of his best hockey of the season. Midway through the second period, it looked like the Eagles were getting a big break when Dallas picked up back-to-back minor penalties to give QC a two-man advantage for a minute and a half. As the Eagles tried to set up their 5-on-3 power play, Dave Warta's shot from the right point was deflected right to a streaking Dallas penalty killer, who broke up the middle and pulled Kruse out of the net, before tucking in the forehand shot for a short-handed goal and a 1-0 lead.
The Eagles seemed to wear down a little in the third, when Dallas controlled the puck in the Eagle zone for nearly a minute. Several attempts to ice the puck were knocked down at the blue line, and finally Dallas got the insurance goal with about eight minutes left. Although the Eagles put forth a great effort as time wound down, they were unable to score, and had to settle for fourth place, as Dallas prevailed 2-0.
With two wins and two losses in the tournament, the Eagles moved their record for the season to 29-19-1. Given the number of first year players and the jump in class to AA this season, it was a very good year.
Watch the web page for a statistics update within the next week or so.
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