The end of the Mid-States Club Hockey Association is this weekend, and we will see a pair of old rivals take to the ice Friday evening to see who will take home this year’s Challenge Cup while two clubs are heading to the title game of the Wickenheiser Cup after garnering upset victories over this past weekend.
In the Challenge Cup finals, a pair of Metro Catholic Conference foes will take the ice as No. 3 seed De Smet needed to win three games in three nights to move on to the title game as they will play the No. 4 seed St. Louis University High School who defeated Kirkwood in the winner’s bracket final to advance. The championship game will take place Friday evening at 8:30 p.m. at Centene Ice Center in Maryland Heights.
The Jr. Bills won the title last year and have claimed three of the last five Challenge Cup finals and are looking to win their fifth title in school history. The Spartans are attempting to win the Cup for the first time since 2010 and will look to win the 15th Challenge Cup title.
SLUH advanced to the final with a 3-0 victory over the No. 2 seeded Pioneers of Kirkwood as SLUH broke open a scoreless game with all three of their goals coming in the final period of action. Curtis Bruen opened the scoring for the Jr. Bills six minutes into the final stanza while Kai Duncan tacked on a pair of late goals to push SLUH to the title game.
The Spartans’ road to the finals was a little more challenging after falling to the Pioneers in the semifinals of the winner’s bracket. De Smet needed to reel off three wins on three days to advance and they were up for the task. The Spartans won their first game on the loser’s side with a 4-2 win over Marquette and then knocked off Chaminade 2-0 to earn a re-match against the Pioneers this past Saturday. The defense and goaltending were fantastic as Brady Govero turned away 28 shots for De Smet while Branden Appelman also had 28 saves on the night for Kirkwood as the game went into an extra session still scoreless. The Spartans finally broke through at the 9:59 mark of the extra session as Mitch Geiser scored an unassisted goal to propel De Smet past Kirkwood 1-0 and on to the finals.
The Spartans are 3-0 against the Jr. Bills this season as they enter the final with a 20-7-2 mark while SLUH will enter the contest with a 17-5-5 record and have won seven of their last eight games.
The Wickenheiser Cup will see a pair of teams that needed to pull off upsets in semifinals to advance to the title contest as No. 3 seed Fort Zumwalt West upended No. 2 seed MICDS while No. 5 seed Lafayette needed a mini-game shootout to defeat top seed Oakville in the final four to move on to the championships.
The Lancers are looking to win their third title and first since 2019 while the Jaguars are attempting to win the Cup for the first time in school history.
In the first semifinal, Fort Zumwalt West and MICDS played to a 4-4 tie in the opening game of their series with the Rams battling back with a pair of third period goals to force the tie. George Williamson put MICDS on the board first with an even strength goal early in the first period to give the Rams a 1-0 lead. The Jaguars grabbed the lead with two unanswered goals in the next four minutes of play as Brandt Diel scored hos tow only goals of the game to put Fort Zumwalt West on top 2-1. Harris Kohler evened the contest early in the second period with a power play goal at the 1:26 mark of the period to tie the game at 2-2 before the Jaguars again scored twice as Aaron Hemmer and Anthony Tinsley found the net at the midway point of the period to give FZW a 4-2 advantage after two periods of play. MICDS continued to battle in the third period as Ameer Hajji cut the deficit to one just 38 seconds into the period while George Herron tied the game at the eight-minute mark to draw even at 4-4.
In the second game of the series, the Jaguars raced out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back as Tinsley scored a pair of goals while Diel added a goal in the second period to put FZW up 3-0. The Rams cracked the scoreboard in early in the third period as Kohler scored on an even strength goal to cut the lead to 3-1, but Diel added an insurance goal with an empty netter with one minute remaining to push the Jaguars to the title game with a 4-1 win.
In the second semifinal series, Lafayette used their special teams to earn a 5-2 victory on the opening game over Oakville. The Lancers struck first as Greyson Eble scored at the 7:31 mark of the first period to give Lafayette a 1-0 lead. The Tigers grabbed the lead at the end of the first period as Michael Soell and Mason Andrew each found the net to put Oakville on top 2-1. The Lancers took control of the contest in the final two periods as Drew Robinson and Christian Hopkins scored power play goals in the second period to give the Lancers a 3-2 advantage while Eble scored his second goal of the night on a penalty shot and Aidan Nosovitch added another power play goal late to propel the Lancers to the win.
In the second game of series was a low scoring affair as the Tigers held the Lancers scoreless as Jack Rodgers made 14 saves on the night to earn the win. After a scoreless first period, Soell put the Tigers on the scoreboard with an even strength goal late in the period to give Oakville a 1-0 lead. Andrew gave the Tigers an insurance goal at the 6:46 mark of the final stanza to aid in the win and force the mini game to determine who will advance.
In the mini game, Lafayette scored only goal of the game as Kyle Kraft scored in the shootout after a scoreless 10 minutes to push the Lancers to the championship game Friday evening at 5:30 p.m. at Centene Ice Center.
Jim Powers has been covering prep sports in the St. Louis area for 15+ years and a part of the Missouri State High School Activities Association Championship Broadcasts for the past 11 years. Powers is also a part of the Fox 2 Verlo Mattress Prep Zone Friday nights at 10:10 during the football and basketball seasons. If you have a prep sports story, please contact Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jim at @hssportscaravan