LATE POWER PLAY SINKS RIVERMEN IN 4-2 LOSS
Mary Heern/Bloomington Thunder
The Bloomington Thunder scored twice on a five-minute major late in the third period and defeated the Peoria Rivermen for the fourth straight game, 4-2 at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum on Tuesday. Paul D’Agostino netted the game-winner, while both Rivermen goals came on special teams.
With the loss, Peoria fell to 24-17-6 on the season (54 points) and is now tied with the Mississippi RiverKings for fourth place in the SPHL standings. The magic number to clinch a spot in the President’s Cup playoffs remains “five” – points earned by the Rivermen or missed by ninth-place Fayetteville. In addition, the loss extended Peoria’s losing streak on the road to six straight.
For the full box score, click here.
After a scoreless first period, Peoria opened the scoring at 10:28 of the second when Matt Viola scored his second power play goal of the year. Following a tripping minor to Kyle Watson, Garrett Vermeersch fed a crisp pass to Viola in the slot, who sent a wrister past the stick of Bloomington netminder B.J. O’Brien. Vermeersch and Joe Schiller earned the helpers.
Just 58 seconds later, Bloomington answered when Travis Granbois controlled a turnover and sent a running wrist shot from the left circle past Kyle Rank.
At 18:37 of the second, Nic Polaski was assessed a five-minute spearing major and game misconduct after making contact with Rank in the Peoria crease. However, Taylor Larsen was called for a two-minute roughing minor as well and the Rivermen were unable to convert on the final three-minutes of the power play.
Instead, Bloomington took advantage when Cole Ruwe was given a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct at 12:48 of the third. From the low slot, Mike Henderson found an opening to the blocker of Rank for a power play goal at the 12:54 mark.
Less than four minutes later, Joe Schiller evened the game with a shorthanded tally at 16:38. From the left side, Steve Morra fed Schiller at the low slot, who jammed home a second-chance opportunity for his first of the year. Morra and Vermeersch notched the assists, the latter of which now has a team-high 12 multi-point games this season.
The Thunder took the lead for good with just 11 seconds remaining on the major when D’Agostino ripped a shot top shelf and glove side from the left circle. Bobby Watson and Granbois each recorded an assist on the game-winner, which stood at 17:37 of the third.
With just 68 seconds remaining, the Rivermen pulled Rank for the extra attacker, but (Kyle) Watson added insurance with an empty netter at 19:29.
Rank (15-8-2) made 28 saves but suffered the loss for the second straight game. On the other side, O’Brien (8-13-1) earned the win and stopped 38 chances.
Peoria finished the game 1-for-4 on the power play and 2-for-4 on the penalty kill. In addition, Peoria led the shot count 40-32.
The Rivermen begin a three-game weekend series against the Mississippi Surge on Friday with a 7:15 p.m. puck drop at Carver Arena. Friday is “NASH FM Night” featuring limited half-price tickets in the lower and upper bowls. In order to take advantage of the discounted price, fans must mention “NASH FM” at the Peoria Civic Center box office. It’s also another $2 draft beer night! For tickets or more information, please call the Rivermen office at 309-676-1040. 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.