Rivermen Dominate Thunderbolts 6-1 in Home Opener

October 27, 2023 - 11:35 pm

PEORIA, IL – An announced crowd of 5,351 saw pretty much everything they wanted. Alec Hagaman scored in his first game back from retirement, ever-popular Zach Wilkie capped off the game with a pretty power-play goal, and 20-year-old local rookie Tristan Trudel scored two goals as the Rivermen dominated the Evansville Thunderbolts 6-1 at Carver Arena on Friday night.


The Rivermen jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead after goals by Ryan Nolan and JM Piotrowski. Nolan’s goal came from a heads-up quick shot from the base of the left-wing circle just under three minutes. Piotrowski added on another goal a few minutes later off of a net-mouth scramble to put Peoria up 2-0 early. The Thunderbolts surged with two power plays to close out the period but Rivermen goaltender Nick Latinovich held firm through the first 20 minutes.


Alec Hagaman gave the people what they came to see as he rifled a wicket wrist-shot into the back of the net while on the power play to put the Rivermen up 3-0 early in the second period. The Thunderbolts responded soon after to trim the Peoria lead to 3-1. As the period progressed, the Rivermen got numerous power-play opportunities that they failed to convert on despite good puck movement. But it was on the power play that arguably the most emotional moment of the night took place. A broken play out in front resulted in Evansville goaltender Hayden Lavigne being caught out of position. Tristan Trudel, the son of Coach Jean-Guy, found the puck in the slot and one-handed it into the net between Lavigne’s legs to record his first goal in professional hockey at just 20 years old.


The third period saw the Thunderbolts make a push, but they were unable to get any traction as the Rivermen defense held Evansville to just three shots on net in the second and third periods. Instead, it was the Rivermen who extended their lead as Trudel picked up his second on the power play and Zach Wilkie added on one more with just seconds remaining off of a two-on-one rush with Joseph Widmar.


The Rivermen improved to 2-0 on the young season and have scored four goals or more in each game this season. They will have Saturday off before heading over to Moline, Illinois to take on the Quad City Storm on Sunday afternoon.


Photo: Tim Lester/Field Pass Hockey