VERMEERSCH CAPS HAT TRICK WITH OVERTIME WINNER
Dennis Sievers/Peoria Rivermen
Garrett Vermeersch completed a hat trick with the game-winner in overtime on Saturday as the Peoria Rivermen defeated the Bloomington Thunder in come-from-behind fashion, 3-2 at Carver Arena. The 24-year-old also notched the game-tying goal with just 61 seconds to play in regulation, and now leads the Rivermen with 17 goals and 30 points in his rookie campaign.
The hat trick was Vermeersch’s second of the year, following a three-goal performance against Bloomington during Peoria’s home opener on Oct. 26. In nine appearances, the Macomb Michigan native now has 20 points (13 goals, 7 assists) against the Thunder.
With the victory, Peoria improves to 14-11-3 (31 points) overall on the season and 8-3-0 against Bloomington. However, the Rivermen remain in fifth place in the SPHL standings.
BOX SCORE – VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
Following a scoreless first period, Bloomington struck first at 15:38 of the middle frame on the power play courtesy of Peter Cintala. From the left side, Travis Granbois sent a pass across to Cintala at the right point, who ripped a slap shot past Rivermen goaltender Eric Levine for his first goal of the year and a 1-0 advantage.
Peoria responded just 1:26 into the third period when Vermeersch danced around three Bloomington skaters and went 5-hole on a backhand shot to beat Thunder netminder BJ O’Brien. Steve Morra and Joe Schiller notched the assists.
Bloomington regained the lead on a shorthanded breakaway at 13:36 when Dennis Sicard stole the puck in the Peoria zone and skated ahead. The 28-year-old then deked Levine forehand-to-backhand for his sixth goal of the year with Kyle Watson in the box for charging.
In the closing minutes, Vermeersch answered again thanks in part to a Kory Helowka high sticking minor and another extra attacker with Levine on the bench. At 18:59, Morra played the puck across to Vermeersch at the back door, who threw a change-up at the net which just squeaked by to even the game at 2-2. Morra and Taylor Larsen notched the helpers on the power play goal.
In overtime, Vermeersch completed the hat trick for the game-winner just 1:41 into the extra session. From the right circle, Morra fed the puck to Vermeersch in the slot, who spun around and found the back of the net. Morra and Charlie Carkin recorded the assists.
Aside from Vermeersch (3g), his Northeastern University teammate Morra also notched a three-point night (3a) – his first professional three-point game.
Peoria finished the game 1-for-7 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill. The Rivermen also outshot Bloomington for the second night in a row, 37-29.
Levine (9-7-3) earned the win in net after making 27 saves, while O’Brien (3-7-0) suffered his fifth loss to Peoria this season after stopping 34 shots. In addition, it was the first time this season Bloomington has lost when leading after two periods (9-0-1).
Peoria returns to action next Friday with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop against the Bloomington Thunder at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum. The game can be heard locally on CD Country 107.9 FM or online at www.cd1079.net. Fans can also follow along via the live video and audio stream at www.americaonesports.com.