Resilient Rivermen Hold Off Dawgs 6-4
April 1, 2023 - 10:07 pm
ROANOKE, VA – A resilient performance by the Rivermen ensured that they came away the victors in a game that saw Peoria take the lead 4 separate times in a 6-4 victory at the Berglund Center on Saturday night.
Peoria was able to strike first just 73 seconds into the game as Austin Wisely directed a shot from the stick of Joseph Widmar into the back of the net to put the Rivermen up 1-0. But a few minutes later, the Dawgs were able to tie the game 1-1 off a shot that snuck past Rivermen goaltender Jack Berry and lay on the goal-line long enough for a Rail Yard Dawg to drive it home as he crashed the net. Peoria, once again took the lead off a back-door pass from the left-wing side as Dale Deon found Mike Gelatt streaking toward the front of the net. Gelatt’s second goal in three games put Peoria in front, but once again Roanoke answered a few minutes later, this time on the power play, to tie the game.
Once again Peoria was able to take the lead as a shot from the right side produced a rebound that was pounced on by Vadim Vasjonkin. Similar to Roanoke’s second goal, Vasjonkin skated right and backhanded a shot into a wide-open net as the goaltender was down and out. But the Rivermen faced some adversity as Zach Wilkie left the ice with an apparent injury in the second period. The absence of the leading defensive scorer in the SPHL was evident as Roanoke struck back on their second power play to tie the game 3-3. But again the Rivermen answered. On the power play, Joseph Widmar sent a shot from the right circle that was blocked. Following through, he picked up the puck and skated to the top of the crease before backhanding it into the back of the net. Widmar’s goal on the power play marked the fourth lead of the game for Peoria. It also marked the first time all weekend that the Rivermen took a lead into an intermission.
The Rivermen's defense stood resilient in the third period as Roanoke went on the attack. For six minutes Roanoke’s hot power play was held in check as Peoria closed ranks and held firm. A power-play goal by Alec Hagaman gave the Rivermen some breathing room, which Peoria needed as the Dawgs were able to pull within one late in the third. But Jordan Ernst was able to secure the win with an empty net goal in the waning seconds to secure the victory.
The win ensures a weekend split for Peoria and ensures the Rivermen will hang on to first place as they head into the final week of the season. Peoria will travel to the Quad Cities for their final road game of the season on Tuesday, April 4.