Professional Hockey In Peoria IL
Professional hockey in Peoria IL since 1982
Shakespeare once warned us to beware of the ideas of March and for good reason. During the spring of 2013, the Rivermen were sent reeling by the St. Louis Blues' sudden decision to cut ties with the team, and just like that, hockey in Peoria nearly ceased to exist.
Immediate action was needed to save professional hockey in Peoria, which is what prompted Rivermen owner Bart Rogers to make a few calls and pull a few strings. The Rivermen landed in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) and have thrived since.
"I woke up to my phone ringing off the hook and emails coming at me that there was no longer going to be a Peoria Rivermen hockey team" - Bart Rogers
March 29, 2013
After joining, the Rivermen wasted no time capturing back-to-back regular season championships in the SPHL, including a trip to the President’s Cup finals in 2016. Their play translated to the league’s best attendance for consecutive seasons.
Peoria's Best Hockey: Record-setting seasons
The Peoria Rivermen have consistently played hockey at a high level. Despite moving from the now-defunct International Hockey League to the ECHL, and from the American Hockey League to the SPHL, the Rivermen's attitude has never changed. Our coaches have continued to push the players forward, and our players have continued to pursue greatness.
Two seasons in particular come to mind when we talk about pursuing greatness. The 1990-1991 season was one of the best in Rivermen's history, though it (like the 2013-2014 season) started with a surprising transition. Right before the start of the season, the then-parent club St. Louis Blues called up then-Rivermen coach Wayne Thomas to be an assistant coach on the NHL team's staff.
Rivermen legend and Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Plager stepped into the recently-vacated head coach role and led the team to a professional hockey record 18-game win streak, a Turner Cup championship, and a season in which the Rivermen produced 41 professional, league, or franchise records. That wasn't all - 15 members of the team went on to the NHL, including Plager himself, who was later promoted to be the Blues head coach.
The Rivermen had another historic season in 2015-2016. The team rode a league-high 14-game streak through December and January, propelled by strong defense and lockdown goaltending from two-time SPHL Goalie of the Year Kyle Rank. The team finished with 39 wins and their second consecutive regular season title. The team swept the Fayetteville FireAntz in the semifinals, allowing a record zero goals in the entire series.
Unpredictable entertainment in Peoria IL
The Rivermen were excited to announce that the Chicago Cubs' World Series MVP, Ben Zobrist, would be the guest of honor in their matchup against Columbus in the Carver Arena. He shared the stage with his wife, Julianna, who performed a post-game Christian concert later that night. The veteran second baseman and Eureka, IL native dropped the first puck of the game and received special recognition from the City of Peoria.
That weekend started normally enough, but plans quickly veered off course as unexpected circumstances forced the change. The Rivermen were scheduled for a two-game set against Columbus, but their team bus crashed en route to the game, forcing the league and both teams into high gear. Under such highly unusual circumstances, Columbus flew players in from across the country to fill in for injured players. All things considered, however, the game went better than anyone expected, coming right down to the wire.
The Rivermen scored first, though Columbus responded with four goals of their own. Peoria's team managed to tie the game before the end of regulation, forcing an additional period, where they eventually won. Given the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the game and the high level of play within it, it wasn't long before it caught the attention of the NHL Network, who called and asked for footage of the game-winner.
Hockey In Peoria IL
For unmatched entertainment in Peoria IL, we encourage you to check out a Rivermen game. Hockey in Peoria IL has never been better, and we hope to see you at Carver Arena.