WAUKEGAN, IL -- A red-hot Evanston Wildkit goaltender was all that stood between the Quad City Ice Eagle Bantam team and the championship of the Zion Power Play '99 tournament. Unfortunately for the Eagles, that was enough. Despite outshooting Evanston by a wide margin, the Eagles fell one goal short, as they dropped the championship contest 3-2. The Eagles had won each of their three preliminary games easily, adding to the frustration of another second-place finish. Game summaries follow:
They didn't know it at the time, but when the Eagles took the ice for their first contest Saturday morning, they would be meeting their eventual championship game opponent, Evanston. It looked like the Eagles would turn the game into a rout when Josh Moon lit the lamp just 25 seconds into the game, assisted by Austin Busch and Trent Lidholm. Just three minutes later, Chad Dotterer jammed home a shot from just outside the crease to make the lead 2-0. But Evanston countered with its first goal less than a minute later, and the game settled into a well-played defensive struggle. Grant Reuter scored the only goal of the second period, set up by Busch. The third period was scoreless until late, when Kevin Dow raced the length of the ice on the left side and then fed a perfect centering pass to Adam Oppendike, who one-timed it past the Evanston goalie to make the final score 4-1. Tom Adducci was also credited with an assist on Adam's goal.
The Eagles outshot the Wildkits 39-11.
In the second contest, played Saturday afternoon at the Zion rink, the Eagles faced the host Zion Atoms. The Eagles hit for three first period goals to put the game away early. Tom Adducci converted an Oppendike pass from behind the net to give the Eagles the early 1-0 lead. Three minutes later, Josh Moon made it 2-0, assisted by Busch. Adam Oppendike scored the third goal, assisted by Dotterer and Warta. The only goal of the second period was an unassisted tally by Warta. The Eagle put the wraps on the victory with two more goals late in the third period. Moon got his second of the game, assisted by Busch with 4:20 left, and Drew Carlson scored the sixth Eagle goal a minute later, assisted by Lidholm.
Again the Eagles dominated play, with a final shot margin of 23-10, as Goalie Brandon Kruse picked up another shutout.
The third and final of the round robin games was played Sunday morning against the Rockford Roadrunners, who made the fatal error of trying to goon it up against the Eagles. By taking 11 penalties, Rockford constantly put itself into shorthanded situations, and the Eagles made them pay with a decisive
Austin Busch took the opening draw from Center Josh Moon and skated into the Rockford zone and scored just 12 seconds into the game. Rockford tied the game on a short-handed tally two minutes later to gain a short-lived 1-1 tie, but they were to be no match for the Eagles this day. Drew Carlson put the Eagles ahead to stay, when he converted a pass from John Carr. Busch scored his second of the game with just 34 seconds left in the period, assisted by Moon and Warta, to make it 3-1.
With less than two minutes gone in the second, Austin Busch got his hat trick when he tapped in Moon's perfect centering pass across the crease. With Rockford throwing elbows and crosschecks, the Eagles continued to storm the Roadrunner net. Moon scored, assisted by Busch, to make it 5-1, and Davis Warta finished off the second period scoring, with an assist going to Ryne Takacs. With the clock running throughout the third period, Moon scored his second of the game, with Busch and Grant Reuter getting assists. It may have been the first time a goal was awarded after a coin toss. With Moon and Reuter jabbing at the loose puck, the referee couldn't tell who actually scored, but Moon won the flip. Dave Warta closed out the scoring, assisted by Carlson, to run the final to 8-1. Again Quad Cities had a wide edge in play, outshooting Rockford 29-7.
These games set the stage for Sunday afternoon's championship game against the first round foe, Evanston. The Wildkits took an early lead, just 1:03 into the game, but the Eagles came back quickly with the tying goal. The Evanston goalie got a piece of Trent Lidholm's rising shot, but it dropped into the crease, where Tom Adducci banged it home. Evanston's Roebuck gave his team a 2-1 lead with his last minute goal in the first period. The teams battled through a scoreless second period, but things really looked bleak when Evanston's third goal gave them a two goal lead early in the final period. That goal seemed to really wake up the Eagles, who started to put tremendous pressure on Evanston to narrow the lead. With just less than eight minutes to go, Josh Moon's slap shot cut the lead to 3-2. The Eagles had some great chances, but the Evanston goalie had all the answers as he made one great save after another. He got a break when Busch just missed a tip-in attempt, and with less than a minute to go, Moon's blistering slap shot off a face off deflected off the crossbar and over the net.
Despite being outshot 29-5, the Wildkits were able to hang on to win the championship. Josh Moon was named the Eagles' MVP for the tournament. The Eagles now prepare to close out their season with next weekend's tournament in Chesterfield, MO. The Eagles record now stands at 27-17-1.
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