Rivermen Close Out 2011 With a Bang
In a New Year’s Eve contest dominated by penalties, the Peoria Rivermen topped the Rockford IceHogs 3-2 in front on 6,226 at Carver Arena on Saturday. Phil McRae netted the game winner midway through the third period while the teams combined for 102 penalty minutes.
Peoria improved to 16-15-2-1 on the season and has recorded points in six of its last seven games.
Peoria opened the scoring with its second shorthanded goal of the year at the 7:40 mark of the first period. After Adam Cracknell was boxed for hooking, Cade Fairchild and Brett Sonne raced two-on-one down the ice and into the Rockford zone. From the top of the right circle, Fairchild fed Sonne who pulled the puck to the backhand and pushed a shot around IceHogs goaltender Alec Richards.
Rockford answered early in the middle frame to even the game at 1-1 with Brandon Segal’s 11th of the year. After Ben Bishop made an initial save on a bouncing puck, Segal knocked the puck over the goal line as players from both sides crowded the crease. The goal, at 4:17, was not signaled immediately but was confirmed after the referee and linesman gathered to discuss.
As the physical play picked up midway through the second, Chris Bruton and Brandon Bollig dropped the gloves at the 12:41 mark and Rob Flick was called for interference 33 seconds later. On the ensuing power play, Fairchild regained the lead for Peoria with his fourth of the year. From the bottom of the right circle, Fairchild threw a puck in front of the net, which deflected off a Rockford defender and found the goal at 14:09.
The IceHogs responded yet again early in the third period to tie the game courtesy of Brandon Pirri. Just 30 seconds into the frame, Jeremy Morin found Pirri on the left side and the forward ripped a shot from the bottom of the left circle. With a small gap over the right shoulder of Ben Bishop, the puck sailed into the back of the net for Pirri’s 14th of the year.
At the 6:47 mark, the tempers began to flare once again as Brennan Evans and Andrew Shaw dropped the gloves in the Rivermen zone. Towards the end of their tilt, Morin stepped in and grabbed ahold of Evans, drawing almost everyone else on the ice into the scuffle. Morin was given a game misconduct for being the third man into the altercation.
The Rivermen took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play at 11:24 of the third to net the game winner via McRae’s team leading 15th of the year. After Chris DiDomenico was called for slashing and Rob Flick was whistled for hooking on the delayed penalty, McRae received a pass from Cracknell in the right circle and ripped a one-timer past Richards.
At the 13:17 mark of the third, tempers heated up once again, this time on the Rockford bench. IceHogs’ head coach Ted Dent was assessed a game misconduct after breaking a stick over the boards following a disagreement with the officials.
Peoria finished the game 2-for-8 on the power play and went 4-for-5 on the penalty kill. Bishop saved 35 of the 37 shots he faced.