Ernst Hat Trick Helps Rivs Earn Point

December 14, 2019 - 11:20 pm

Ernst Hat Trick Helps Rivs Earn Point

Thunderbolts win third shootout this season against Rivermen

Photo credits: Dennis Sievers


Evansville, IN – Jordan Ernst notched his first professional hat trick in a score-crazed affair, but the Thunderbolts edged Peoria in a shootout for the second consecutive game, 6-5. The Rivermen picked up two points on the road trip, seeing their record at 12-1-3. Evansville went on to win a franchise-best sixth straight game, improving to 10-8-1.


The Thunderbolts struck first in the opening period, thanks to Matthew Barnaby redirecting a shot past Rivermen goaltender, Eric Levine. 33 seconds later, Mitch McPherson cashed in on a rebound from Brandon McMartin’s initial shot that bounced in front of Evansville keeper Braeden Ostepchuk to make it 1-1 8:34 into the contest.


Shortly after, Jordan Ernst would begin his big night. On the power play, Nick Neville connected on a pass to Ernst in the left circle. Ernst threw a wrist shot toward the net that glanced off a Thunderbolts defender and in.


Peoria held a 2-1 lead headed into the second, but Evansville in signature fashion responded with a three goal second period. It marks the third time in the last four meetings that the Indiana rival scored three times in the middle frame.


Stanislav Dzakhov would tie the game, followed by a pair of goals from rookie Jake Smith. Sandwiched in-between the Smith goals was another tally from Ernst, his second of the game, coming off another feed from Neville. Nonetheless, the score still favored Evansville, 4-3 after two periods. 


Coach Trudel’s group found a bang-bang sequence in the third period to take a lead. On another power play, Neville and Ernst connected for a third time, yet again from atop the left circle where the first year Rivermen hammered a shot into the net for his third goal of the game, 10th of the season, and the first career hat trick for the 22-year-old Ernst. 

Less than a minute later, a deep slot drive from McMartin leaked through Ostepchuk, and thus the Rivermen found themselves up, 5-4 with 8:37 left to play. 


The lead would last until the dying minutes of period three. With just 1:40 left, Dzakhov took a shot from the left wing that Levine stopped, but the rebound found its way to the right side, where Austin Plevy had an open net to tie the game late.


After an overtime mostly controlled by the Rivermen (including a four-on-three power play), the game would need a shootout for the second straight night. Peoria managed to get all five of their shootout efforts on goal, but Ostepchuk stopped every one of them. Dzakhov had the lone tally in the shootout, beating Levine through the legs to seal the deal in the Ford Center Saturday night.


The Rivermen play next on Tuesday morning, when they welcome the Knoxville Ice Bears to Carver Arena, with a puck drop set for 10:30 p.m. CST….The broadcast of the game can be heard, at starting with the pre-game show at 7:15 p.m. CST.


Group, single game, and season tickets for Peoria's 38th season of professional hockey presented by Midwest Orthopaedic Center are on sale at the Toyota Box Office in the Peoria Civic Center, 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 or through Facebook ( - Twitter(