Rivermen Season Ends Despite Valiant Comeback Attempt

April 23, 2023 - 07:35 pm

PEORIA, IL – Peoria’s historic season ended on Sunday afternoon as a valiant comeback attempt fell just short at Carver Arena. The Rivermen fell to the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs 5-3 in the decisive Game Three of the semi-final series.


Roanoke struck first right from the get-go as they took advantage of a Rivermen turnover and put the puck into the back of the net just 15 seconds in. Two more Roanoke goals followed, with one coming off of another Rivermen turnover and another off of a Rivermen skate. This prompted a goaltender change as Eric Levine came in and made several big stops to keep the Rivermen in the game trailing 3-0 after 20 minutes.


The second period saw all kinds of chances for the Rivermen as they had several great looks at the front of the net. Alec Hagaman had the Dawg goaltender down and out right in front but failed to find the back of the net and Mitch McPherson had a sure goal denied by a diving block right in front. Despite the frustrations, the Rivermen were able to find the back of the net as JM Piotrowski went up ice with a two-on-one with Austin Wisely. Piotrowski shot for a rebound and it deflected to Austin Wisely who shoveled the puck into the back of the net to trim the Roanoke lead to 3-1. But Roanoke answered on the next shift to re-establish the three-goal lead. Trailing 4-1 Peoria drew several penalties, including a five-minute major, to earn a five-on-three advantage going into the third period.


The Rivermen clawed back in the third period as they capitalized on their five-on-three advantage with a back-door pass to Alec Baer to pull the Rivermen to 4-2. Peoria then found the back of the net again with just over five minutes to play thanks to Nick Neville’s hard wrist shot from inside the top of the circles. Down just by one goal, the Rivermen pulled the netminder in an attempt to find the tying goal to force overtime. But a long toss from the Roanoke zone sailed down the length of the ice and into the empty net to secure a victory 5-3 and their second trip to the President’s Cup Finals. Peoria’s season ends after a first-place finish in the regular season and a strong showing in the playoffs.


The Rivermen will return for their 42nd season in Peoria for the 2023-24 campaign.


Photo: Harold Hopkins/Peoria Rivermen