Great Plains Regional Champions CrownedGPCIHL March 3rd, 2015 at 1:02AM March 3rd, 2015 7:06AM
GPCIHL 2015 Regional Champions Crowned
Ballwin, MO - On a cold snowy weekend in Ballwin, Missouri, teams battled for their chance at an automatic bid to the 2015 NCRHA National Championships. Teams crowned as the Great Plains Collegiate Inline Hockey League (GPCIHL) regional champions received bids to compete in Independence, Missouri April 7th-12th for a chance at a Division 1, 2, and 3 national title.
In division 1, #4 Missouri State Bears took on the #5 Mizzou Tigers in the quarterfinal “play-in” game. The Tigers would come away with the upset and defeat the Bears 3-1. Mizzou was then scheduled to play #1 Lindenwood University Lions in the semifinal, but forfeited and sent the Lions to their 12th consecutive Great Plains regional final appearance. In the other semifinal, the #2 Bethel Wildcats matched up against #3 UMSL Tritons. With the Tritons making a late push in the 3rd period and scoring the last four goals in regulation time, they forced overtime. The Wildcats would rebound though and get a powerplay goal from Aiden Board to give Bethel the 7-6 victory and send them to the finals where Lindenwood awaited.
The division 1 championship was set between two teams who have had a lot of history. To begin the regular season, the Bethel Wildcats handed the Lindenwood Lions their worst loss in years. Then the Lions would return the favor and do the same to the Wildcats in their next meeting. Lindenwood then won two straight one goal games to win the season series 3-1.
With everyone in the building at Midwest Sport Hockey expecting a thrilling finish to the division 1 regional championship, they ended up disappointed. It was all Lindenwood in this contest. The Lions outshot the Wildcats 27-12 and claimed their 11th GPCIHL Regional Championship by the score of 7-0. Lindenwood goaltender Bryan Lowery received the most valuable goaltender award, while the Lions captain Cody Kettler received MVP honors.
In division 2, #4 Missouri S&T Miners took on the #5 Washington-STL Bears in the quarterfinal “play-in” game. The Bears came away with the upset and defeated the Miners 6-5. Washington-STL then advanced to the semifinals where they faced off against the #1 Illinois State Redbirds. The Redbirds were too much to handle for the Bears and Illinois State advanced to the division 2 final with a 10-2 victory. The other semifinal game featured another upset with the #3 Kansas State Wildcats defeating the #2 Saint Louis Billikens by the score of 7-4.
The division 2 championship was by far the most exciting game of the 2015 GPCIHL Regional Championships. The Illinois State Redbirds would take on the Kansas State Wildcats for the D2 title. The Redbirds and Wildcats met twice during the regular season with Illinois State taking both games in two close contests.
The first period was evenly matched and ended 0-0 with K-State outshooting the Redbirds 11-7. The scoring started just 1:46 into the 2nd period, as Sean Hughes scored a powerplay goal for the Redbirds to make it 1-0. Kansas State would respond with three goals in a span of two and a half minutes, taking the lead 3-1. Both teams would score late in the 2nd period and head into the 3rd with the Wildcats leading 4-2. Illinois State needed a quick start in the 3rd period and they got it. The Redbirds added another powerplay goal and an even strength early to tie the score 4-4. The score would stay tied through regulation time and an overtime period would decide the championship. If you blinked you may have missed the conclusion…Illinois State’s Tyler Cahanin scored the game winning goal just 20 seconds into the overtime period. Just like that, Illinois State was the 2015 division 2 regional champions. Illinois State goaltender Nate Sablich received the most valuable goaltender award, while Tyler Cahanin received MVP honors.
In division 3, #4 Mizzou Tigers took on the #5 Illinois State Redbirds in the quarterfinals. The Tigers defeated the Redbirds 11-2 to advance to the semifinals against #1 Lindenwood Gold. In other quarterfinal action, the #3 Bethel Wildcats sent themselves to the semifinals with a victory over # 6 St. Charles CC by the score of 5-2. The Wildcats advanced to play #2 Lindenwood Black in the semis.
The Lindenwood Gold Lions received a first round bye and matched up against the Mizzou Tigers for a chance to advance to the finals. The Gold Lions had no trouble and defeated the Tigers 11-1 to advance to the D3 championship. The Lindenwood Black Lions also received a first round bye and faced off against the Bethel Wildcats in the semifinals. The Black Lions came away with the 6-2 victory to set up an all Lindenwood division 3 championship.
For the fifth time in GPCIHL history, Lindenwood Gold and Lindenwood Black met in the division 3 finals. The Gold Lions have won 3 of the past 4 matches, but that had no effect on the Black Lions. After the first period of play, the score was 0-0 with the shots even at 9 a side. The Gold Lions would then turn it on midway through the 2nd period and score five goals in a little under four and a half minutes and go into the 3rd period leading 5-0. The Gold Lions would never look back and defeat Lindenwood Black 9-1. This was Lindenwood’s 11th overall D3/B division regional championship and the fifth time a secondary Lindenwood team has finished as the runner-up. Lindenwood goaltender Brennen Sowa received the most valuable goaltender award, while Lions defensemen Jake Escarcega received MVP honors.
The GPCIHL would like to thank all the teams that participated this season and wish the best of luck to all the teams that will be competing at the national championship tournament this coming April. The National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association (NCRHA) will announce the complete 2015 national championship bids on Monday, March 9th. Keep checking back for more information.