Oakville hockey team defeats Eureka in first round of playoffs

By ROBERT CHALUPNY

For the Call

What the Oakville Senior High School varsity hockey team expected is exactly what happened as the Tigers dominated the Eureka Wildcats in the first round of their quest for the Challenge Cup.

The third-seeded Tigers defeated the 14th-seeded Wildcats 6-1 Friday night and 7-1 Monday night in the first round of the Challenge Cup Division of the Mid-States Hockey Association,

In the deciding game Monday night, the Tigers fell behind early 1-0. But they roared back, plotting seven unanswered goals and protecting the sweep of their first victim.

Tigers head coach Derek Stephens said he advised his players to play confident but disciplined as well.

“Coming into this game, we had to stick to our game plan and play the same way we did on Friday night (in the series opener) because they are a team that’s going to come out and not give up,” he said. “… They are going to play with desperation, so we’ve got to be prepared for that.”

After giving up the first goal, Stephens told his squad to relax and play Oakville-style hockey.

“I told them, relax, stick with our game plan and keep working hard and good things will happen,” he said. “… We got rolling there and things started happening, goals started to go in and everybody contributed,

“So I was very happy with how they played in both games. It was a really good series for us.”

Oakville team captain Tommy Heinzman, who had one goal and three assists Monday night, said he wasn’t worried at all about Eureka scoring the first goal.

“We went down 1-0. It was a lucky bounce for them, but we just kept our heads up and knew that we were going to come back and pop in more than they would,” Heinzman said. “Our whole team was just confident the entire time. The entire series, we knew that we were a better team and that we were going to move on.”

Well, move on they will and now the Tigers will face a team that oddly enough they haven’t beaten yet this year.

Next up is the sixth-seeded Lindbergh Flyers, who tied Oakville in the only two games they played against each other in the regular season.

Lindbergh knocked Kirkwood out of the playoffs narrowly Monday night. The Flyers lost the second game Monday night to even the series. That forced a 10-minute mini-game that ended scoreless and set up Lindbergh’s dramatic 1-0 shootout victory.

Stephens will take nothing for granted as he gets ready to try and lead his troops past the Flyers.

“They are going to be a tough team to play. We watched them play here tonight,” he said. “Anybody in our division is going to be tough, so we’ve got to be prepared for that. I think they’re excited, though. It’s a challenge as we’ve seen these guys before, so they want to get back at it and come out with a good outcome this time.”

Stephens said he believes his players are performing at their potential, but they can get even better.

“I think we are moving on all cylinders. I think there is definitely another level that we can get to, but for the most part, I think these guys are doing everything we ask of them and they all believe in each other,” he said.

Heinzman said the Tigers’ success has been a team effort all season and the same is true in the playoffs.

“Everyone is stepping up. It’s not just one person scoring,” he said. Our goalie is standing on his head like usual and all our defense are stepping up as well.”

The time and date of the game against Lindbergh has not yet been determined.