Rivermen Wrangle Bulls, 5-1

March 6, 2020 - 10:50 pm

Rivermen Wrangle Bulls, 5-1

Four goal first period propels Rivermen to victory

Photo credits: Dennis Sievers


Peoria, IL – The Peoria Rivermen welcomed the Birmingham Bulls to Carver Arena Friday night, then treated their guests in a less than cordial fashion, netting four goals in the first 20 minutes of action. The Rivermen scored 3:52 into the contest and never looked back, with Zach Nieminen and Alec Hagaman posting four points each and dazzled 3,387 fans in Carver Arena. The win, Peoria’s first of this five game homestand, improves the team to 31-8-5, remaining second in the SPHL standings. Birmingham falls to 16-22-6 and fall to eighth place in the standings.


The Rivermen opened up the scoring with a quartet of goals in the game’s opening frame, the first coming prior to the four-minute mark of the period. Rivermen winger Zach Nieminen snapped a shot on goal that was initially stopped, however the rebound slid to Ryan Cusin who shoveled the puck past Bulls goaltender Riley Lamb and into the back of the net for the quick 1-0 lead at 3:52 of the period. The second tally came just 64 seconds later when Konner Haas cut through the right circle and slid the puck past Lamb for the 2-0 Rivermen edge.


Peoria added two more goals in the first stanza. The third tally of the period came just past the midway point when Paul Fregeau put the puck on net and Nieminen found a rebound, stuffing it into the back of the net for the 3-0 advantage at 10:11 of the opening period. Lamb was pulled in favor of Artt Brey after allowing three goals on eight shots, but the Rivermen didn’t finish their first frame outburst just yet. Peoria capped their four-goal period in the closing minutes when Alec Hagaman took a feed from Nieminen as he crossed the blue line. Hagaman raced into the slot and hammered a wrist shot that deflected off a Bulls defender and past goaltender Artt Brey for the 4-0 Rivermen lead at 18:11 of the first period.


The Rivermen tacked onto their lead in the middle frame when Hagaman found the puck behind the goal line, sliding a pass to Nieminen who was stationed in the right circle. Nieminen wound up and blasted a one-timer over the glove of Brey for the 5-0 Rivermen advantage at 9:02 of the second stanza.


Birmingham got on the board near the middle of the final frame when Jonah Wasylak put a shot on goal that was turned aside by Rivermen goaltender Eric Levine, but the rebound fluttered out to Russell Jordan who fired a shot that beat a sprawled out Levine on his back to cut the Rivermen lead to 5-1 at 9:06 of the third period. 


Levine earned the win between the pipes for Peoria, stopping 23 of 24 shots faced. With the win, Levine improves to 21-4-4 on the season. Taking the loss between the pipes was Birmingham’s Riley Lamb who stopped 12 of 15 shots in 30:11 of action, split between the first and third period.


NOTES: With his first period goal, Ryan Cusin notched his first professional goal in his pro debut….Jordan Carvalho was a healthy scratch, breaking a 157 consecutive game streak….Zach Nieminen collected a new career high for points in a game with four….Peoria had three players earn multi-point games in the contest….The Rivermen return to action Saturday night as they rematch Birmingham….Saturday’s game will feature JF Boutin’s induction into the Rivermen Hockey Hall of Fame…Saturday’s game is also Chicago Blackhawks night, with the Rivermen wearing special Blackhawks themed jerseys….Puck drop for Saturday’s game is scheduled for  7:15 p.m. CST….The broadcast of the game can be heard, at http://mixlr.com/peoria-rivermen/ starting with the pre-game show, at 7:00 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 www.rivermen.net or through Facebook (www.facebook.com/PeoriaRivermen) - Twitter(https://twitter.com/Peoria_Rivermen)