The Parkway South Patriots will meet the Eureka Wildcats for the championship of the Founders Cup.
The two teams will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at Queeny Park Recreational Complex in the title game of the third-tier tournament of the Midstates Club Hockey Association.
Parkway South is 6-15-3 and takes a three-game winning streak into the championship game. Eureka, the defending Founders Cup champions, is 7-15-3 and has won four of its last five games with a tie.
Patriots coach Jim Taylor said his team is ready for the title matchup with Eureka.
“They’re happy to have extended the season as far as they could,” Taylor said. “The Founders Cup isn’t the goal when a season starts but I think Midstates generally does a good job of putting teams in the correct postseason tournament. This tournament is the correct one for our group this season so to be playing for the championship against a good conference opponent feels like we’ve done well.”
Taylor said his team has some good players. Junior Jason Gifford leads the Patriots in goals scored with 14. Benjamin Bier is second with 13 goals.
“Our team is talented and coachable, we just lack depth generally in numbers,” Taylor said. “We were pool eligible this year for probably the first time in the history of the program. That means some young players are getting more varsity ice than you would typically see and everybody has to be ready to play with a relatively short bench.”
Parkway South won it’s opening series against the Fort Zumwalt South Bulldogs. After playing to a 3-3 tie, the Patriots scored a 3-1 victory.
The Patriots then faced Lutheran South in the semifinals. Parkway South scored decisive 4-1 and 6-1 victories. Senior Chase McClellan scored a hat trick in the first game for the Patriots. Michael Sapienza and Brendan Foshee each scored two goals for Parkway South in the second game. Goalie Garrett Limpert stopped 11 shots in the first game and then 26 shots in Game 2.
But everyone contributed, Taylor said, in helping the Patriots reach the title game.
“In the first two series, the entire group just responded very well,” Taylor said. “Everyone accepted and stayed committed to the game plan and the style of play we ask them for. When they do that, it’s fun to watch.”
Eureka defeated St. Mary’s in its opening series and then got past Webster Groves in the semifinals. Last season, Eureka defeated Fort Zumwalt West to win the Founders Cup and earn the first championship in the program’s history.
The two teams met twice during the regular season. Parkway South lost 4-3 in November and then tied the Wildcats 5-5 in January.
“Eureka is a very even match for us,” Taylor said. “I think the winner will likely be the team that can remove the emotion of the familiar, conference opponent and stick to a game plan.”