Fregeau Gets Gordie Howe Hat Trick in 4-1 Win Over Evansville

February 14, 2020 - 10:50 pm

Fregeau Gets Gordie Howe Hat Trick in 4-1 Win Over Evansville

Special teams help Rivermen on Valentine’s Day

Photo credits: Tim Lester Images


Peoria, IL – Paul Fregeau registered the first Gordie Howe Hat Trick in nearly two years for the Rivermen as part of a 4-1 win over Evansville Friday night inside Carver Arena. 


The win improves Peoria’s record to 27-6-4, while ending a five game win streak for the Thunderbolts, who stand 21-13-5. Eric Levine won for the Rivermen with a 22 save performance. Brian Billett took the loss with a 37 save outing for the visitors.


After dominating a first period that offered no goals in Thursday’s game, the Rivermen wanted to change the script a night later. Paul Fregeau struck just 2:30 into the contest when Nick Neville charged the right side of the Evansville net, putting a shot off Billett that ricocheted to the left point for Fregeau to get through traffic for his 3rd goal of the season. Fregeau would later fight in the first with Stanislav Dzakhov and earn an assist later in the game for the first Gordie Howe Hat Trick for the Rivermen since Cody Dion performed the feat on March 31st, 2018 against Roanoke.


The goal would be the only one in the first, but the Rivermen remained busy with four penalty kills needed in the first 20 minutes, including one at a critical moment. Zach Nieminen was boarded by Thunderbolts’ forward Darius Davidson in the attacking zone for Evansville. Peoria defenseman Skyler Smutek was called to action, dropping the gloves against Davidson, but the result was a five minute major and a game misconduct on account of an aggressor, giving the Thunderbolts three minutes of power play time that quickly turned into a full, two minute five-on-three when Alec Hagaman was dealt an interference penalty.


Despite the numbers advantage, Evansville went unfulfilled on their power play, and went 0-for-5 on the night. The Rivermen would increase their lead in period two when Nieminen caught a pass over the wing from Regan Nagy 4:14 in, making it 2-0.


With the penalty kill in sync, the Rivermen power play would also be activated in period two. Jordan Ernst carved his way into the slot during a five-on-four chance, knifing a puck from his backhand to the top of the net behind Billett for a 3-0 lead.


Derek Sutliffe managed to score right off a faceoff 11:03 into the second to cut the deficit at two, but that would be the lone tally for the Thunderbolts. At the 11:34 mark in the final frame, Hagaman provided the put-away goal with his textbook shot. The captain took the puck from out the corner boards and brought it to the high slot where a wrist shot went by the blocker side of Billett for Hagaman’s team leading 21st goal of the season.


Peoria outshot Evansville heavily for the third time in the last week, with the totals reading a 42-23 difference on Friday. 



NOTES: With an assist in tonight’s game, Regan Nagy earned his first point in a Rivermen uniform….Captain Alec Hagaman had his third consecutive multi-point game and has seven points in his last four outings….Jordan Carvalho also has seven points in his last four games….The Rivermen return to action next Sunday afternoon with the conclusion of a weekend and season series with the Thunderbolts….Sunday’s game is Sunday Family Funday presented by Peoria Journal Star….Puck drop for Sunday’s game is scheduled for  3:05 p.m. CST….The broadcast of the game can be heard, at starting with the pre-game show at 2:50 p.m. CST.


Group and single game 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(