LARSEN LIFTS RIVERMEN TO THIRD STRAIGHT WIN
Taylor Larsen notched Peoria’s fourth hat trick of the season, while Steve Morra and Matt Viola each added a tally, as the Peoria Rivermen cruised to a 5-2 victory over the Huntsville Havoc Friday at Carver Arena. Three of Peoria’s five goals were scored on special teams, including two shorthanded goals and a 1-for-5 performance on the power play.
The victory extends Peoria’s win streak to a season-best three games, and its point streak to five. The Rivermen are now 6-6-3 on the year (15 points) and in sole possession of seventh place in the standings. In addition, goaltender Eric Levine (4-4-3) earned his third straight win after stopping 30 of 32 shots on the night.
For the full box score, click here.
The second meeting between the two clubs got off to an interesting start when the lights went out and the arena went dark just 3:28 into the first period. The outage produced a 17 minute delay.
When play resumed, Larsen opened the scoring at 12:30 of the first with Huntsville on the man advantage. Following a four minute double minor to Parker Stanfield, who was called for head-butting at 10:49, defenseman Cole Ruwe grabbed the puck in Peoria’s zone and sent it two-thirds of the ice ahead to Larsen at the blue line. Larsen then gained the zone and beat goaltender Jesse Kallechy with a wrist shot top shelf for the shorthanded tally. Ruwe and Levine recorded assists.
After being outshot 17-7 in the first period, Huntsville came out firing in the second and scored a pair of goals just 27 seconds apart. While shorthanded at 11:17, Levine fielded a loose puck behind his own net and flung it in desperation to a wide open Stuart Stefan, who turned a fired a shot into an open net with the goaltender out of position. Seconds later, the Havoc took a 2-1 lead at 11:44 when Mike Gurtler threw a shot on net from the left half-wall, which was knocked out of Levine’s glove and tapped into the back of the net by Leland Fidler.
Peoria responded to even the game yet again at the 14:29 mark. From the point, Nick Prockow fired at shot on target that was initially stopped by Kallechy. The deflection however ended up going straight to Larsen, who backhanded it in from the right side for his second goal of the night. Prockow and Adam Feniak were credited with the helpers.
Larsen completed the hat trick with less than a minute left in the middle frame with his second shorthanded goal of the night. From the left boards, Larsen deked one defenseman and gained the Havoc zone before he wristed a shot glove side from the right circle that found the back of the net at 19:17. It was Larsen’s second career hat trick – the first coming on March 16th, 2013 as a member of the Augusta RiverHawks against Louisiana.
Dennis Sievers/Peoria Rivermen
The Rivermen added some insurance at 2:21 of the first with their first power play goal of the game courtesy of Steve Morra. Just 12 seconds into an elbowing minor to Sam Cannata, Garrett Vermeersch grabbed the puck and took a shot from the left point. The wrister made its way through traffic before it was stopped by Kallechy, but the rebound came loose to Morra who knocked it in from the doorstep for his second of the year. Vermeersch and Stanfield notched the helpers.
With less than a minute to go in regulation, Peoria added its final goal of the game with an empty netter from Matt Viola at 19:19. It was Viola’s first professional goal.
The Rivermen outshot the Havoc 39-32 on the night and went 6-for-7 on the penalty kill. Kallechy (6-3-0) suffered the loss after he made 35 saves.
Aside from Larsen, Corey Tamblyn (2a), in his Rivermen debut, was the only other player with multiple points for Peoria.
Peoria concludes the weekend doubleheader with a 7:15 p.m. puck drop against the Havoc on Saturday at Carver Arena. The game can be heard locally on CD Country 107.9 FM.