Rivermen Fall to Evansville in Shootout Despite Valiant Comeback
December 22, 2023 - 10:45 pm
PEORIA, IL – Four times the Rivermen fell behind, and four times they clawed back to tie the game. But in the end, it was not enough as the valiant Rivermen fell 5-4 in the shootout to the Evansville Thunderbolts at Carver Arena on Friday night.
The first period saw several good chances for both sides, but neither the Rivermen nor the Thunderbolts could find the back of the net.
Evansville was able to get on the board first as they forced a turnover in the Rivermen zone and capitalized to take a 1-0 lead just under two minutes into the second period. Peoria answered back however just over a minute later as Andrew Durham deflected a shot-pass from Cayden Cahill. Cahill was pivoting at the left-wing face-off dot and looking to send a pass across the slot, but it was deflected by Durham and caught Evansville goaltender Cole Ceci off-guard as he was slow to stop the puck from sliding into the back of the net.
Evansville took the lead back on a break-away goal but that was also answered by a power-play tally by the Rivermen. Alec Baer was able to send a quick pass to Zach Wilkie in the high slot uncovered. Wilkie, one of eight players tied for the league lead on power-play points made no mistake on the one-timed shot as he sailed it into the top-left corner to tie the game 2-2. But Evansville would not sit back and took the lead back late in the second period off of a net-mouth scramble in front with just under two minutes to go in the second period.
“In the second and third periods, individual mistakes are costing us right now,” said Rivermen Head Coach Jean-Guy Trudel. “We’re looking for consistency from everyone and that includes goaltenders also.”
Peoria found the tying goal just 90 seconds into the third period as Joseph Widmar deflected a shot from Braydon Barker at the right-wing point to tie the game 4-4. But a few minutes later the Thunderbolts, once again, took the lead. This time on a short-angle shot from the base of the circle that snuck in past Rivermen goaltender Brendahn Brawley on the short-side. Just like last Saturday, the Rivermen found themselves down by a goal late in the third period. Unlike Saturday, they were able to find the tying goal.
While on a power play, Alec Baer settled down a bouncing puck as he skated to the high slot and unloaded a quick-release shot into the net. With traffic in front, Baer’s shot found its way in with just a few minutes to play in regulation.
The Rivermen had several chances to win the game in overtime, including a break-away for Alec Hagaman but continued to be frustrated by Ceci, who made several key saves to keep the Rivermen from taking the lead in the third period and winning the game in overtime. In the end, the contest came down to a shootout, Peoria’s first of the year, where they fell to the Thunderbolts 2-1 with only Joseph Widmar scoring for Peoria.
The Rivermen will look to regroup and come back on Saturday night in their final game against Evansville before the Christmas holiday. Face-off is set for 7:15 pm at Carver Arena.