RANK FILES 33-SAVE SHUTOUT AGAINST FORMER TEAM
Dennis Sievers/Peoria Rivermen
Kyle Rank stopped all 33 shots for his league-leading fifth shutout of the season on Friday, and backstopped the Peoria Rivermen to a 3-0 win over the Fayetteville FireAntz at Carver Arena. It was Rank’s first appearance against his former team since being traded to Peoria on Dec. 18. In addition, Garrett Vermeersch netted a pair of goals to lead the Rivermen, while Taylor Larsen scored the other.
With the win, Peoria improved to 21-14-4 on the season (46 points) and remains fifth in the SPHL standings. Plus, Rank extended his winning streak to five-games overall, while the Rivermen have now won five straight at home for the first time this year.
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Peoria kicked off the scoring at 7:08 of the opening frame when Larsen grabbed the puck in the neutral zone, skated in and fired a shot from the right circle that beat Fayetteville netminder Peter Skoggard. The tally extended Larsen’s goal streak at home to four games.
Vermeersch extended Peoria’s lead at 6:33 of the second on the power play. Following a tripping minor to Derek Elliott, Parker Stanfield sent a pass to the top of the point where Vermeersch fired a slap shot past Skoggard’s glove. Stanfield and Cole Ruwe earned the helpers.
Peoria capped off the scoring at 18:36 of the second when Vermeersch stole the puck in the neutral zone and raced down the ice on a 2-on-1 break. As he approached the bottom of the right circle, the Rivermen rookie sent a wrister into the back of the net for his team-leading 23rd goal of the season and for the 3-0 final.
Peoria finished the game 1-for-2 on the power play and a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. In addition, the Rivermen allowed two goals or less for the eighth straight game. Fayetteville outshot Peoria 33-25.
Rank is now 5-0-0 in his last five games with a 1.20 goals against average and .962 save percentage. Overall, the Islip, New York native is 13-5-0 with a 1.93 goals against average and .937 saves rate.
Skoggard (9-11-3) made 22 saves and suffered the loss.
The Rivermen continue a three-game weekend series on Saturday with a 7:15 p.m. rematch against the Fayetteville FireAntz at Carver Arena. Saturday is “Chicago Blackhawks Night” featuring an appearance by Hockey Hall-of-Famer Tony Esposito. Plus, the first 1,000 fans will receive a 2013 Stanley Cup Champions team photo and one lucky fan will take home an autographed Patrick Sharp jersey. Saturday is also $2 draft beer night. 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.