Peoria's Comeback Falls Just Short in Evansville

December 16, 2023 - 10:15 pm

EVANSVILLE, IN –  The Rivermen erased two separate deficits in the third period on Saturday night but fell just short in a 4-3 contest to the Evansville Thunderbolts at the Ford Center.

The first period saw the Thunderbolts send 13 shots on net, but goaltender Nick Latinovich turned them all aside as both teams fought to a scoreless stalemate in the first 20 minutes.

That stalemate was broken by Evansville with two goals in the first half of the second period that enabled them to jump out to a 2-0 lead. The Rivermen had their best chances in the middle period late and on the power play. Alec Baer and Tristan Trudel traded Grade-A chances to cut down the Evansville lead, but they continued to be frustrated by a hot Thunderbolt goaltender.

The Rivermen came out flying in the third period however and out-shot the Thunderbolts 20-5. Peoria was able to strike back as Tristan Trudel was able to turn and fire in a shot from the left-wing dot to get Peoria on the board. Alec Baer added his third goal in two games as he took the puck to a deep slot and rifled in a hard wrist shot with traffic in front of the game at 2-2.

Evansville took the lead back on an awkward bounce off the side of the net, but the Rivermen were able to answer with a bounce of their own. As Baer skated up the right-wing side, he shot the puck that produced a rebound in front. Brayden Barker was able to locate the puck after a fortunate hop off of JM Piotrowski’s stick and made no mistake as he fired the puck into the back of the net to tie the game up 3-3.

The game seemed destined for overtime, but a late power-play goal by Evansville gave them the lead with under four minutes to go. Despite a late power-play and some solid looks at the net the Rivermen could not find one more bounce to go their way and were forced to watch Evansville escape with a close victory.

“I thought we probably played our best period of the weekend there in the third but too little too late,” said Rivermen Assistant Coach Eric Levine.

Saturday was the first of three straight games between Peoria and Evansville as the Rivermen will host the Thunderbolts next weekend at Carver Arena for a Friday-Saturday series on December 22 and 23.