THREE-GOAL FIRST LEADS RIVERMEN TO WEEKEND SWEEP
Dennis Sievers/Peoria Rivermen
The Peoria Rivermen scored three times in the first period and held on late to complete a weekend sweep of the Columbus Cottonmouths with a 3-2 victory on Saturday at Carver Arena. The win marked Peoria’s sixth straight game with at least one point, and extended goaltender Kyle Rank’s (12-5-0) win streak to four games after he made 29 saves on 31 shots.
Overall, Peoria improves to 20-13-4 on the year (44 points) and sits just one point shy of the Mississippi RiverKings for fourth in the standings. In addition, the weekend sweep marks the sixth such sweep for the Rivermen this season.
VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS – BOX SCORE
Just 4:19 into the first, the Rivermen opened the scoring when Parker Stanfield netted his sixth goal of the season. From the behind the net, Stanfield stole a pass intended for Columbus defenseman Tom Maldonado and swiftly turned on a wraparound chance that beat Snakes netminder Andrew Loewen from the five-hole.
Less than five minutes later, Peoria added to its lead when Taylor Larsen found the back of the net on the power play. Following a cross checking minor to Matt Gingera, Charlie Carkin threw in a shot from the top of the point that Larsen redirected from the doorstep at the 9:13 mark. Carkin and Tyler Amburgey were credited assists on the goal, the latter of whom extended his point streak at home to six games.
With 49 seconds remaining in the opening frame, Steve Morra improved the Rivermen lead to 3-0. From the side of the Columbus net, Garrett Vermeersch sent a backhand pass across to Steve Morra and the far post, who ripped a one-timer past Loewen’s extended glove for his eighth goal of the year. Vermeersch and Adam Hartley notched the helpers.
The Snakes responded for the first time at 2:25 of the second when Dan Bremmer scored thanks to a rebound opportunity. From the right circle, Jason Gray took a shot that Rank initially saved, but the Rivermen goaltender could not control the loose puck which fell to Bremner. From the crease, Bremner collected the rebound and found the back of the net. Gray was credited with the only assist.
Columbus narrowed the Rivermen lead to 3-2 via Maldonado’s fifth goal of the season and fourth on the power play. Following a tripping minor to Vermeersch, Maldonado received the puck and skated towards the top of the left circle before wristing a shot off of Jarrett Rush’s leg pad and inside the left post at 17:30 of the second. Gray and Jordan Draper recorded the assists.
Through the final period of regulation, the Rivermen fought off several Columbus scoring chances including seven shots on goal and a five-minute elbowing major assessed against Larsen. Larsen was also given a game misconduct for a hit on Gingera at the Peoria blue line. In addition, Loewen was pulled from the Columbus net for an extra attacker with 63 seconds left in regulation, but it was to no avail.
Both teams registered 31 shots on goal during the contest, while Peoria went 1-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill. Maldonado’s power play goal at 17:30 of the second snapped Peoria’s streak of 26 successful penalty kills dating back to Jan. 18 against Bloomington.
Loewen (12-12-1) allowed 28 saves on 31 shots and suffered the loss for the second straight night.
Peoria returns to action on the road Tuesday 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 here. Fans can also follow along via the live video and audio stream at www.americaonesports.com.