From The Alton Telegraph
By Pete Hayes
EAST ALTON – The SIUE Cougars hockey team felt they had the figures required to get into the Mid-America Club Hockey Association Gold Division playoffs. But since the pandemic left league teams with various numbers of games played, they were hoping for an Iowa State sweep of McKendree University – just to be sure.
The Cougars are thanking Iowa State. The Cyclones indeed swept a pair of weekend games from McKendree, securing the sixth and final playoff spot in the MACHA Tournament, which is set for this weekend at Maryville University in Chesterfield.
“We needed Iowa State to beat McKendree,” SIUE coach Tyler Elbrecht said. “We felt we had what was needed to get in, but this makes it official.”
No need to formulate, cipher or figure.
Because of teams were forced to cancel some games because of the COVID-19 pandemic, MACHA officials elected to determine the final standings using percentages instead of simple game results.
SIUE, which finished its regular season a week earlier with a pair of losses at No. 2 Iowa, waited to see what top-seeded Iowa State did with McKendree this past weekend. They won both games against the Bearcats.
SIUE finished at 6-10 for a .479 won/loss percentage. McKendree finished seventh at 5-7-1 for a .393 percentage.
That meant the Cougars grabbed the sixth and final berth in this weekend’s single-elimination MACHA Tournament. They will square off against Bradley University at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Maryville University Hockey Center. the tournament will run through Sunday and feature the Gold Division and Silver Division tournaments.
“We’re peaking,” Elbrecht said. “I know we had those losses at Iowa, but (the Hawkeyes) are very strong and we held our own.
“Everybody on our team is buying into what we’ve been preaching,” he said. “We’re simple. We’re a meat-and-potatoes team. We have guys who can make plays, but we’re not fancy.”
The Cougars are also completing their season after missing more than a year of play because of the pandemic.
“For some of our guys, it was 15 months off the ice for the most part,” Elbrecht said. “It hasn’t been easy, but I think we’re coming together.”
The Cougars split a pair of games with Bradley during the regular season. SIUE won 4-1 on Nov. 12 at the Owens Center in Peoria then dropped a 6-1 decision the following day, also in Peoria.
Maryville and Illinois State University complete the field of teams in the MACHA Gold Division Tourney.
In the win over Bradley, SIUE got goals from Braden Rowe, Scott Macatee, Scott Simon and Simon Maxfield. The Braves outshot the Cougars 46-40, but SIUE goalie Brendan Rasch made 45 saves.
“(Rasch) did a great job,” Elbrecht said of the former Saint Louis University High School Junior Billiken goalie. Rasch has made 252 saves in eight games.
SIUE’s other goalie is former Alton High standout Caleb Curry, who has made 145 saves in six appearances.
If the Cougars defeat Bradley on Friday, they’ll advance to a Saturday game against top-seeded Iowa State, which, along with No. 2 Iowa, received a bye for the first round. The Cyclones, who helped the Cougars get into the tournament, likely won’t be as hospitable if they play each other Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Iowa State is 14–0 and has outscored its opponents 72-24. The Cyclones swept a pair of games from SIUE in November, 5-1 and 6-1.
“We’re playing better,” Elbrecht said. “The guys are seeing the results of their labor. Now, it’s win or go home.”
(Originally published at https://www.thetelegraph.com/sports/article/Thanks-Iowa-State-SIUE-skaters-make-it-into-16839266.php)