RIVERMEN FALL TO SURGE LATE IN OVERTIME
The Peoria Rivermen let a two-goal lead slip away on Friday and fell to the Mississippi Surge, 3-2, in overtime at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. Lucas LaBelle netted the game-winner with just over 14 seconds remaining in the extra frame, while Garrett Vermeersch and Matt Viola each scored for the Rivermen.
The loss drops Peoria to 23-14-5 on the season (51 points), but gives the team a point for the 10th time in the last 11 games. Between the pipes, Kyle Rank made 26 saves on 29 shots, but suffered the loss for the first time since Jan. 19 vs. Bloomington (ended a six game win streak).
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The Rivermen came out strong and jumped out to an early lead when Vermeersch scored just 1:47 into the first on a rebound. Taylor Larsen grabbed the puck from the near half wall and took a shot that Surge netminder Mathieu Dugas was unable to gather, which allowed Vermeersch to pounce on the puck from the crease. The goal was Vermeersch’s team-leading 24th of the season, while Larsen and Charlie Carkin notched the assists.
Viola increased the Rivermen lead to 2-0 at 13:16 of the first when Parker Stanfield brought the puck to the front of the net which caused Dugas to scramble. Among the ensuing scrum, Viola found the back of the net for his seventh goal of the year. Nick Prockow and Stanfield each earned a helper, the latter of which extended his point streak to seven games.
Less than four minutes later, the Surge responded on the power play to cut the deficit to one at 17:09. With Tyler Amburgey in the box for high sticking, Joe Tolles sent a cross-ice pass to Jordan Peddle at the top of the left circle, who fired a slap shot through traffic and past Rank. Tolles and Jarkko Leppanen picked up assists.
After a scoreless second period, Mississippi converted on the power play once again when Bill Baker notched the equalizer at 14:15 of the third. Following a cross checking minor to Amburgey, Peddle collected the puck and found Barker at the right circle, who turned and fired the puck into the back of the net. Peddle and Justin MacDonald registered the helpers.
In overtime, the Rivermen spent a total of 3:29 on the power play, including 21 seconds on a 5-on-3 advantage, but couldn’t seal the game-winner. Among the chances, newcomer Locke Jillson earned a breakaway mid-way through overtime, but was denied by Dugas. Instead, LaBelle connected on a 2-on-1 break with just 14.4 seconds remaining for a 3-2 final.
Peoria finished the game 0-for-7 on the power play and 4-for-6 on the penalty kill. In addition, Mississippi outshot the Rivermen 34-29. With the loss, Rank falls to 14-5-1 on the season but continues on a seven-game undefeated in regulation streak. Before allowing the first period power play goal, Rank had gone 159:39 of ice time without allowing a goal.
The Rivermen continue a three-game road trip on Saturday with a 7:05 p.m. CST puck drop against the Louisiana Ice Gators at the Cajundome in Lafayette, Louisiana. 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.