Peoria Falls to Pensacola 7-4

December 1, 2023 - 11:10 pm

PENSACOLA, FL – Despite a valiant effort and a good start by the Rivermen, penalties, bad bounces, and a hot Pensacola offense was the difference at the Pensacola Bay Center on Friday night as the Rivermen fell 7-4 to the Ice Flyers.


The Rivermen struck first as Joseph Widmar sent a turn-around shot from the base of the left circle on the net forcing a pad save. Alec Hagaman picked up the rebound and passed the puck across the top of the ceras to a streaking Braydon Barker who touched it into a wide-open net for his first of the year. Spencer Kennedy was able to build on the 1-0 lead as he streaked up the right-wing side, dipped his shoulder, and drove the net. Kennedy’s quick back-handed shot found the back for his first of the season to put Peoria up 2-0. Though the Ice Flyers were able to get on back, the Rivermen held the Ice Flyers to just a single goal in the first period.


That did not last long however as the Ice Flyers went on the attack early in the second period, tying the game on a rebound goal just over a minute into the second period. The Rivermen were able to get one back however as JM Piotrowski took the puck up on a three-on-one after a forced turnover at center ice. Piotrowski sent a quick pass across to Cayden Cahill who held on to the puck long enough to find an opening. Cahill’s quick wrist shot sailed into the net to give Peoria the lead back 3-2. But again the Ice Flyers swarmed and took advantage of a power play to tie the game back up at 3-3. Pensacola continued to push the pace offensively but the Rivermen's defense and penalty kill, led by goaltender Brendahn Brawley, kept the contest tied.


“He battled,” said Rivermen Assistant Coach Eric Levine on his netminder. “If you’re getting out-shot 30-to-8 at one point and you [still] in a hockey game it’s because of your goalie.”


The Rivermen were eventually out-shot 47-23 in the contest.


Pensacola got the bounces in the third period as they were able to take advantage of a five-minute major power play to take the lead 4-3, and added on another goal midway through the third period to put themselves up 5-3. Andrew Durham got the Rivermen back within one goal after pouncing on a loose puck in the low slot short-handed. Durham released a quick shot that sailed into the top shelf to bring the Rivermen within one.


However, the Ice Flyers took advantage of two breaks to put the game out of reach. The first saw a Rivermen lose his footing in front of his net, colliding with the goaltender just as a Pensacola shot came in, and the second saw a defenseman lose an edge at the blue line while on a six-on-four advantage that led to an empty-net goal.


“We’re at the point of this journey with the team we have where we faced quite a bit of adversity, some self-inflicted, some unfortunate,” said Rivermen Assistant Coach Eric Levine.


The Rivermen will have a chance to right the ship on Saturday night as they close the weekend in Pensacola. Face-off for Saturday night’s contest is set for 7:05 pm.


Photo: Tim Lester- Press Pass Hockey