Hats Galore as Rivermen Shell Vermilion County, 8-2

January 14, 2022 - 10:40 pm

PEORIA, IL – The hats fell down fast and furious at Carver Arena on Friday night. Not one, but two hat tricks (one by Alec Hagaman, the other by Mike Laidley) helped propel the Rivermen over the Vermilion County Bobcats 8-2 in Peoria's 14th victory of the season.


The Rivermen got off to a hot start as Alec Baer, while on the power play, took advantage of some open ice in front of him as he streaked up on the left-wing side. Dipping the shoulder, Baer cut across the top of the crease and deposited the puck around and behind Bobcat goaltender Ben Churchfield. Mike Laidley added on another goal a few minutes later as J.M. Piotrowski, from one knee, sent a pass into the low slot on a broken play and Laidley rifled a one-timer into the top-shelf.


The Bobcats got one back on a breakaway goal in the late stages of the period, but the Rivermen answered again with Laidley’s second goal of the game as he deflected a shot in behind Churchfield and watched as the puck rolled across the goal-line to give Peoria the two-goal lead and Laidley his second goal of the night.


The second period was much of the same as the first period. The Rivermen added two more goals by Hagaman, both were tap-in goals with one on the power play, to extend the lead to 5-1. That proved to be the end of the night for Churchfield as he was pulled in favor of Joe Sheppard IV. On Sheppard’s first shot that he saw, he was forced to watch the puck sail into the back of the net off of the stick of Nate Chasteen. The goal proved to be Chasteen’s first in professional hockey as he deflected a quick shot from the high slot. The goal extended the lead to 6-1 and marked the fifth game this season that the Rivermen have scored six goals in a game. The only response Vermilion County could muster was a single goal by Houston Wilson, his third straight against Peoria, to slim the Rivermen lead to 6-2.


The third period saw the Rivermen add on two more goals. The first came off of the stick of Hagaman with a quick release from the high slot. The goal marked Hagaman’s third of the night and the first hat-trick for the Peoria captain this season. Many hats, that were given away by the Rivermen this evening to the first 1200 fans in attendance, were sent back down to the ice for Hagaman in celebration. Just five minutes later, the Rivermen notched another hat trick as Mike Laidley was able to score from behind the net after his centering feed deflected off of a Bobcat shin guard and into the net. Again more hats fell on the ice. Laidley’s third goal marked the first hat trick of his professional career and extended Peoria’s lead to 8-2. It was a lead that lasted until the final horn.


Overall, it was a night of season-highs for Peoria. They set a new high for goals this season (8), set a new season-high for shots on goal (45), and a new season-high in power-play goals scored in a single game (3). But of course, the biggest stat of the night must be the two hat tricks that were scored in a single game. An outstanding stat in itself.


The Rivermen will be back at Carver Arena on Saturday night against Vermilion County, looking for their fourth win of 2022. Face-off is set for 7:15 pm against the Bobcats.  

Photo: Steve Daggs - Sports Photo News