Game Recaps

Rivermen Beat Heat, 5-1, in Abbotsford


TJ HensickAfter scoring just four goals over their last three games, the Peoria Rivermen offense erupted for three goals in 2:50 and rolled to a 5-1 win over the Abbotsford Heat on Tuesday night at the Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre.  The victory ended Peoria’s three-game losing streak and pushed them back into the top spot in the West Division and the Western Conference with 55 points (26-13-2-1). 


T.J. Hensick (1g, 2a) added to his team lead in points with third three-point night of the season and extended his point-streak to seven games.  It is now the team’s longest such streak this season, besting his own mark of six straight games which he opened the season with. 


He scored Peoria’s first goal on the team’s first shot of the game at 4:04 of the first period.  Nikita Nikitn sent a backhand pass to Hensick in the slot who slid it along the ice past Leland Irving for his 10th goal of the season. 


Abbotsford’s lone goal came at 13:03 to tie the game at 1-1.  Gaelen Patterson beat Jake Allen with a wristshot from the left circle to register his fourth goal of the campaign and put his team even through 20 minutes.


The Rivermen broke the game open in the second period with three quick goals.  Brett Sonne deflected Nathan Oystrick’s shot over Irving’s glove at 11:42 just 22 seconds before Graham Mink snapped a shot under his blocker for his 13th.  The pair of goals prompted Jim Playfair to make a goaltending change and installed J.P. Lamoureux with 7:56 left in the second period.    


For Sonne, the goal was his second goal of the season and first since Nov. 19 when he put one past Irving and the Heat at Carver Arena. 


Shortly after the goaltending move, Cam Cunning was called for holding the stick that put Peoria on the power play. Nick Drazenovic sent a wrist shot from along the boards just inside the far post for his 10th of the season.  Assisted by Ian Cole, it was the first of two power-play goals of the night. 


Nikitin scored the other in a rough third period that saw 41 of the game’s 53 penalty minutes issued.  Gord Baldwin’s high-sticking double-minor helped Hensick feed Nikitin in the slot who snapped in his third goal of the season.  All three of Nikitin’s goals have been scored on the power play.


The Rivermen power play finished 2-for-9 while their penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3. Matt Keith was assessed a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for spearing with 5:15 left in the third. 


Peoria is now 3-0-0 against the Heat this season and a perfect 15-for-15 on the penalty kill.  Their final meeting of the season is on Wednesday at 9 p.m. CT from Abbotsford.  The game can be heard locally on 96.5 ESPN Radio or online through