Wickenheiser Cup quarterfinals look to be wide open in Midstates Club Hockey Association playoffs
By: Warren Mayes
Top-seeded Eureka survived the round robin portion of the Wickenheiser Cup playoffs to advance to the quarterfinals in the Midstates Club Hockey Association postseason play.
“We would have liked to have won all three games, but not doing so gave us a wake-up call and reminded us we need to be prepared every shift, no matter who the opponent is,” Eureka coach Kevin Markovitz said. “There were no real standouts, just solid play from all four lines, which has been the story all year long.”
The Wildcats went 2-1 in Division A of the round robin play. Eureka opened with a 2-1 loss to Duchesne but rebounded to defeat Webster Groves 4-2 and Ladue 6-1. Duschense went undefeated to get out of the grouping.
In Division B, MICDS went 2-1 to get out along with undefeated at 3-0 Fort Zumwalt West. The Rams defeated Northwest 6-5 before losing 6-3 to Fort Zumwalt West. Needing the win, MICDS whipped Fort Zumwalt East 5-1.
In Division C, Marquette and Lutheran South emerged to reach the quarterfinals. Marquette finished 2-1. The Mustangs lost their opener 1-0 to Lutheran South before defeating Francis Howell 4-2 and Fox 3-1 to survive. Lutheran South finished round robin play 2-0-1.
In Division D, Wentzville Holt and Francis Howell North prevailed. Holt went 2-0-1 while Francis Howell North finished 1-0-2.
The coaches liked the new format to begin the postseason.
“ I did like the round robin format, because it gives all teams a chance to compete, and playing different teams keeps a level of excitement and anticipation throughout the round,” Markovitz said. “As I look across the remaining eight teams, there is only a fine line that separates top to bottom, so if you run into a hot goaltender, or do not come prepared to play, a low seed could easily upset a higher seed.”
MICDS coach Kyle Webb said he liked the new format that began this season to start the playoffs.
“I did. I thought it was neat to see a bunch of different teams we haven’t played yet this year and it was a good way to get a feel for what the playoffs were like, especially having seven freshman,” Webb said. “We had two solid games against Northwest and Fort Zumwalt East. Fort Zumwalt West was strong, but a good wake-up call for our team.”
The teams that still stand will be competitive as a new Wickenheiser Cup champion will be crowned at the end of the month.
“I think everyone is a contender and I’m expecting to see some close games and close series,” Webb said.
In the quarterfinal matchups, No. 1 Eureka (13-9-2) will play No. 12 Holt (13-7-4). The series begins Friday (Feb. 8) at 7:45 p.m. at St. Peters South. Game 2 will be at 9:15 p.m. Saturday at Fenton. In the other half of the bracket, No. 5 Howell North (12-9-3) will face No. 6 Lutheran South (13-8-3). Game 2 of the series will be at 8:30 p.m. Monday at St. Peters South.
In the other side of the bracket No. 3 Marquette (6-16-2) will face No. 7 MICDS (12-10-2). That series finishes Saturday at 9:15 p.m. Saturday at the Hardees Ice Plex. In the other pairing, No. 2 Fort Zumwalt West (14-7-3) will meet No. 8 Duchesne (16-5-3). That series begins Saturday at 8 p.m. at St. Peters South. Game 2 will be Monday at 6:45 p.m. at St. Peters South.
Markovitz said his club is ready for Holt despite not playing the squad this season.
MICDS and Marquette did not meet in the regular season. To advance to semifinals, the Rams must do what they do best, Webb said.
“We have to play our game — smart, disciplined hockey with quick puck movement,” Webb said.