Hagaman Lifts Rivermen To 1-0 Series Lead
April 13, 2023 - 10:40 pm
PENSACOLA, FL – Alec Hagaman was the third-period hero as his goal just 11 seconds after the Ice Flyers had tied the game lifted Peoria over Pensacola 3-2 at the Pensacola Bay Center on Thursday night.
Crazy bounces and hard-fought hockey was abundant in the first period, but the Rivermen were able to get the bounces they needed and it enabled them to take the lead. A net mouth scramble right in front of the net saw Joseph Widmar deposit a loose puck into the back of the net for his first goal of the playoffs to put Peoria up 1-0. In the final minutes of the first period, on the team’s first power-play, the Rivermen extended their lead just nine seconds into the advantage. Alec Baer, a staple of last year’s post-season run, fired a hard wrist shot from the high slot that sailed in past Pensacola goaltender Brad Arvanitis to put Peoria up 1-0.
Both teams drew power plays in the middle period, and both teams had great chances to either extend or cut into the Rivermen lead. But Rivermen goaltender Jack Berry was able to hold firm with some help from his defensemen. Thanks to their efforts, Peoria’s 2-0 lead held firm into the third period.
The third period saw the Rivermen have near complete central, but a power play for Pensacola gained momentum for the home side. A power-play goal by the Ice Flyers ended a drought that dated back to the regular season. Pensacola tied the game a few minutes later on a rebound goal. The Pensacola Bay Center was hopping and the Ice Flyers were ecstatic that they had erased Peoria’s 2-2 deficit. It looked, for all intents and purposes, that the game would be decided in overtime.
Captain Alec Hagaman had other ideas.
Just eleven seconds after the Ice Flyers had tied the game, Hagaman took the puck in the natural zone, crossed the blue line, and unloaded a fast, hard wrist shot that sailed into the top left corner over Arvanitis’ blocker. The quick response silenced the crowd and stunned Pensacola. The Rivermen, now with a 3-2 lead, clamped down defensively to take Game One 3-2 in Florida.
The win puts Peoria up 1-0 in the best-of-three series. Peoria will have a chance to clinch the first round on home ice on Saturday, April 15. The face-off for Game Two at Carver Arena is set for 7:15 pm.
Photo: Harold Hopkins/Peoria Rivermen