Offense Remains Hot in 5-2 Win Over Chicago
T.J. Hensick scored twice while Jonathan Cheechoo and Adam Cracknell each recorded three points to lead the Peoria Rivermen to a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Wolves on Sunday at Carver Arena. Peoria collected five of a possible six points on the weekend to bring their record to 2-3-1-1 on the young season.
The Rivermen racked up 15 goals in three games this weekend and went 7-for-15 on the power play.
Peoria wasted little time in grabbing an early lead as Hensick put the Rivermen on top just 3:17 into the opening frame. With the puck in Peoria’s zone, Wolves defenseman Kevin Connauton fell at the blue line, which led to a 2-on-1 the other way for the Rivermen. From the right circle, Brett Sterling fed a pass to Derek Nesbitt who missed a one-time shot from the side of the net. The puck took a fortunate bounce however off the boards to Sterling, who fed a pass to Hensick in front for the goal.
Connauton and the Wolves bounced back just 43 seconds later and evened the game at 1-1 with the defenseman’s second of the year. From the left point, Connauton wristed a shot through traffic and off the crossbar before it found the back of the net past Rivermen goaltender Ben Bishop.
Peoria took the lead for good at the 12:09 mark of the first period as Cracknell made it 2-1. Danny Syvret missed the net from the right point, but the puck bounced off the boards to an open Cracknell who buried it from the doorstep past Wolves goaltender Eddie Lack. Syvret and Cheechoo were credited with the assists for the Rivermen.
Cheechoo extended Peoria’s lead with an excellent wrist shot at 4:15 of the second. Cracknell fed a pass to Cheechoo from the near boards and the Rivermen winger placed a perfect shot over Lack’s right shoulder and into the back of the net for his third goal of the season.
The Rivermen made it 4-1 just over two minutes later courtesy of Hensick’s second of the game. At the 6:34 mark, Peoria won a faceoff and Mark Cundari sent a blast from the left point on goal. Lack made the initial save, but the rebound bounced right to Hensick who slipped it through the pads of the Wolves netminder. It was Hensick’s seven career multi-goal game.
Chicago cut into its deficit midway through the second frame after Mark Mancari notched his second tally of the year. From the right circle, Dean Strong found Mancari on the left side of the slot and the Wolves winger found the back of the net with a wrist shot at the 10:32 mark.
Anthony Nigro added the final goal of the contest late in the third period as the Rivermen caught Chicago’s defense off guard once again. At 17:50, Cracknell fed a pass ahead to Cheechoo who skated into the Wolves zone down the right side. As Lack came out to block a potential shot, Cheechoo slipped a pass to Nigro between the goaltender and near post for an easy tap in. Cracknell and Cheechoo were credited with the assists giving both a three-point night.
Bishop made 29 saves for his second victory of the year while Lack stopped 32 of 37 shots he faced. Peoria went 0-for-2 on the power play, but was a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.
The Rivermen continue a three-game homestand on Thursday with a 7 p.m. contest against the Texas Stars. The game can be heard locally on 107.9 CD Country in Peoria or online at www.rivermen.net. Call 309-676-1040 for tickets.