Thang and Smith Too Much for Rivermen
The Peoria Rivermen opened the 2011-2012 season at Carver Arena on Saturday night and dropped a 4-1 decision to the Milwaukee Admirals. Ryan Thang scored twice and Jeremy Smith made 22 saves as the Midwest Division rival Admirals spoiled the night for 7,029 fans.
Peoria’s first power play of the season turned into a 5-on-3 advantage nearly halfway through the first period. At 9:06, Brett Sterling scored just seconds after the two-man advantage ended for a power-play goal in his Rivermen debut. T.J. Hensick made a quick pass to Danny Syvret at the point who fired the puck into traffic in front of Smith. Sterling deflected it in on the way by.
Michael Latta tied the game at 15:45 of the first period on a penalty shot. Latta froze goaltender Jake Allen with a head fake then slid the puck between Allen’s pads making it a 1-1 game.
With 1:04 left in the first period the Admirals took a 2-1 lead on Thang’s first of the night. Victor Bartley’s shot clanked off the post and the rebound went to right to Thang on the backdoor who put the puck into an open net. Chris Mueller had the secondary assist on the play.
After a scoreless second period, the Admirals took a two-goal lead at 7:24 of the third Milwaukee forward Jani Lajunen poked the puck away and raced down the wall. At the top of the circle, Lajunen made a spin-o-rama pass to teammate Juuso Puustinen who fired a wrist shot low past Allen’s glove.
With 1:30 left in the third period, the Admirals sealed the win with an empty-net goal making it 4-1. Thang found the net for his second of the night and earned a two-point night for Latta as well.
Smith stopped 22 out of the 23 shots he faced. Allen made 26 saves on 29 shots. The Rivermen finished the game 1-for-3 on the power-play and a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
The Rivermen host the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday at 5 p.m. Anyone with a ticket to Saturday’s game can purchase a ticket on Sunday for just $5. To purchase tickets call 309-676-1040 or stop by the Peoria Civic Center box office.