BY SAM SCINTA
The Panthers opened their 2016 season on Halloween in Granite City against the Belleville Township High School Hockey Club in just the fashion they needed, getting just enough offense in a 6-4 win.
Ethan Ourada found the back of the twine for the first O’Fallon goal of the season in the first period, and would again light the lantern just minutes later to give the Blue and Gold a 2-0 lead. The Panthers would capitalize on one more scoring option in the frame, pacing the team to a 3-0 lead at the first intermission.
The second period would be much less kind to O’Fallon, as Belleville used a crisp offensive game plan to create traffic in front of the net and in turn create a little momentum in their direction.
Belleville pushed three pucks across the line in the second frame as they rode a much improved defensive effort towards a tie game heading into the third.
Panther star junior Graham Sudduth made sure his team would not get down despite the second period collapse, however, and the sniper became more assertive on the offensive side of the ice.
Boy did it pay off, as Sudduth netted a pair of goals to give the Panthers a 5-3 lead before Belleville pulled their goaltender, leaving the net wide open for the junior’s fourth goal of the evening to shut the door on the contest.
“These guys are brothers on the ice,” Head Coach Patrick Roy said. “We were glad we had the fan support we did tonight, too. It helped. But we have to get right back at it tomorrow night.”
The Panthers returned to the ice last Tuesday in East Alton when O’Fallon took on the Collinsville Kahoks.
After a scoreless first period, OTHS opened the floodgates by scoring three unanswered goals before the Kahoks took advantages of a pair of turnovers to create some offense of their own, trimming the Blue and Gold advantage to 3-2.
That’s as close as they would get, however, as the Panthers would find one more goal to put the game away and O’Fallon had its 2-0 start on the heels of their 4-2 win.
“It’s been a great start so far, but we have a long way to go this year, and a lot to learn,” Roy added. “It’s going to be a great year.”