Rivermen Storm Back to Topple RiverKings Saturday
March 3, 2018 7:15 pm
Photo Credit: Dennis Sievers/Peoria Rivermen
Rivermen Storm Back to Topple RiverKings Saturday
Late rally helps Peoria clinch playoff berth on home ice
Peoria, IL – The Peoria Rivermen saw a 3-0 first-period lead evaporate before erasing a late 4-3 Mississippi RiverKings lead as they topped the RiverKings 6-4 at Carver Arena Saturday Night. The win, Peoria’s 30th of the season, mathematically assures the Rivermen of a trip to the SPHL President’s Cup Playoffs for the fifth consecutive season before tomorrow’s rematch with the RiverKings.
The Rivermen grabbed an early lead with a quick pair of goals in the middle of the opening period. The first goal came with the Rivermen in the RiverKings zone, Rivermen winger Keegan Bruce carried the puck down the left wing and circled behind the Mississippi net. Bruce exited the right-wing and fired a pass to the high slot, where Peoria defenseman Ben Oskroba rifled a wrister past the outstretched glove of Riverkings goaltender Tyler Green for the 1-0 lead at 12:26 of the opening period. Peoria doubled their lead just 19 seconds later when winger Alec Hagaman took a pass from teammate Brandon Rumble, raced into the Mississippi zone, cut across the front of the crease, and slipped a shot past Green for the 2-0 Rivermen advantage at 12:45 of the opening stanza.
The Rivermen added to their lead with less than five minutes to go in the first period when defenseman Dave Pszenyczny put a shot on goal that was stopped by Green. In the ensuing net-front scrum, Peoria winger Joe Kalisz stuffed the puck past Green and into the back of the net for the 3-0 Rivermen lead at 15:45 of the opening period and chasing Green from the contest.
Mississippi cut into the Rivermen lead late in the first period. RiverKings winger Shane Bennett raced into the Rivermen zone and into the left-wing corner, then slipped a pass through the crease to teammate Brantley Sherwood, who shoveled the puck into an open net behind Rivermen goaltender Peter Di Salvo to cut the Rivermen lead to 3-1 at 17:20 of the first period.
The RiverKings cut further into the Rivermen lead just past the halfway point of the second period when Mississippi center Bryan Arneson took a pass from defenseman Kristaps Bazevics and hustled into the Rivermen zone. Arneson cut through the right circle and tucked a shot under Di Salvo’s leg to reduce the Rivermen lead to 3-2 at 10:17 of the middle frame.
Mississippi tied the game and took their first lead of the night with a pair of goals in the opening minutes of the third period. While attacking in the Rivermen zone, Riverkings defenseman Don Olivieri put a shot towards the goal that was blocked in front, the ensuing rebound squirted out to teammate Ryan Marcuz, who shoveled a backhand past an outstretched Di Salvo to tie the game 3-3 at 4:40 of the third period. The RiverKings took the lead 99 seconds later when Rivermen winger Mike Gurtler entered the Mississippi zone and was stripped of the puck by Marcuz, who then sent a pass into the neutral zone where Arneson collected it and sped into the Rivermen zone and down the slot on a breakaway. Arneson fired a shot over Di Salvo’s left shoulder and under the crossbar for the 4-3 Riverkings lead at 6:19 of the third period.
The Rivermen tied the game late in the third period when Rivermen winger Will Smith, stationed along the right-wing boards of the RiverKings zone, found a streaking Jordan Carvalho, who took the pass in the right circle and snapped a shot past new RiverKings netminder Jared Rutledge to tie the game 4-4 at 15:33 of the third period.
Peoria regained the lead with less than four minutes left in regulation. Rivermen center Joseph Widmar held the puck on the left point of the Mississippi end and fed a pass to teammate Michael Economos, who deked through the Mississippi zone past Sherwood and fired a shot over Rutledge’s shoulder for the 5-4 Rivermen edge at 17:26 of the third period.
The Rivermen got an insurance tally in the closing minutes of the contest while shorthanded. With play in the Rivermen zone and Mississippi skating 6-on-4 with Rutledge off for an extra attacker, an errant RiverKings pass escaped the zone. Rivermen center Justin Greenberg hustled down the ice and collected the puck, skated around a trailing RiverKings defender and escorted the puck into the empty net for the eventual 6-4 final at 19:26 of the final frame.
Di Salvo earned the win in goal stopping 29 of 33 shots faced. With the victory between the pipes, the Oakville, Ontario native improves to 14-9-4 on the season and 9-2-1 in a Rivermen uniform.
Notes: With his first period goal, Oskroba set a new career high with six goals in a season…Will Smith has collected a point or more in 9 straight games, collecting a total of 16 points in that span…With his third period goal, Economos leads the team in game-winning goals with 5….The Rivermen return to action Sunday afternoon as they rematch the Mississippi Riverkings at Carver Arena, faceoff is set for 3:05 p.m.…Sunday is PNC Family Fun Sunday, with a pregame Kids Fest in the Peoria Civic Center Great Hall, $3 tickets for kids 12 and under, $1 hot dogs from Raber Packing Co. and a post-game skate with the Rivermen on the Carver Arena ice….The broadcast of the game can be heard, starting with the pre-game show, at 2:45 p.m. at http://mixlr.com/peoria-rivermen/
Group, single game, and season tickets for Peoria's 36th season of professional hockey presented by Midwest Orthopaedic Center are on sale at the Toyota Box Office in the Peoria Civic Center, or by phone at the Rivermen office, located at 201 S.W. Jefferson Street, or over the phone at (309) 676-1040. For the latest Rivermen news and notes, follow online at www.rivermen.net or through Facebook (www.facebook.com/PeoriaRivermen) - Twitter(https://twitter.com/Peoria_Rivermen)