Rookies Lead Rivermen to High-Scoring Victory over Evansville

December 8, 2023 - 10:55 pm

PEORIA, IL – It was the rookies who led the way for Peoria with four goals between newcomers Tristan Trudel and Adam Keyes. They were instrumental in a 5-4 victory over the Evansville Thunderbolts on Teddy Bear Toss Night at Carver Arena.


Over 4,000 fans watched as Peoria put up a strong defensive effort in the first period, holding Evansville to a season-low one shot on goal in the first period. It was Tristan Trudel who sent the teddy bears flying onto the ice as he cleaned up a rebound after Cayden Cahill was able to make a nice toe-drag move in the slot and got the puck to the net. Trudel’s fifth of the season ended a six-game pointless streak and put the Rivermen up 1-0.


The second period saw a plethora of goals scored, eight in total, and that's where things opened up. Evansville tied the game up 1-1 less than two minutes into the second period just after a Rivermen power play had expired. The Rivermen then had two goals in eleven seconds, both by the same player. Skating behind the play, Adam Keyes suddenly found himself in front of the play as Body Duncan forced a turnover and sent a long pass up to him. Skating in on a break-away, Keyes rifled a shot that beat Evansville netminder Cole Ceci's short side to give Peoria their lead back and give Keyes his first goal in North American Professional Hockey. Just eleven seconds later, after a won faceoff, Keyes was found again as the Rivermen moved up ice quickly. Keyes again fired home a shot that beat Ceci short-side marking his second goal in the same shift.


“Impressive by the young Keyes, didn’t play a shift in the first, came out in the second, and didn’t miss a beat,” said Rivermen Head Coach Jean-Guy Trudel. “Two goals on the same shift I was really happy for the guy, we needed that.”



Evansville was able to answer back with a power play goal before Alec Hagaman responded with a power play tally of his own. Skating up through center ice, Hagaman stepped in over the blue line and into the high slot, seeing a shooting lane develop between two defensemen who took a bad angle, Hagaman unleashed a wicked wrist shot that found the back of the net. Down to the Rivermen 4-2, Evansville scored two back-to-back goals to tie the game late in the second. This tie lasted until the final minute of the second period when Tristan Trudel received a pass from Andrew Durham on the right wall while on the power play. Trudel was able to one-time the shot on net and it beat the netminder Ceci low and sputtered into the back for Trudel’s second of the night to put the Rivermen up 5-4 going into the third period.


Peoria held firm in the third period, despite a plethora of power plays and a late Evansville surge, they held on to win 5-4 in regulation, snapping a two-game skid. Even so, Trudel knows there are plenty of aspects to improve on, especially from his veteran group.


“Two rookies with four goals, I think we need some of the older guys pushing a little bit here,” Trudel said. “We have a short roster so your leaders become really important and we need all of the little things not only with the puck but defensively also.”


The Rivermen will be back in action on Saturday night in Evansville, Indiana against the Thunderbolts. Face-off is set for 7:00 pm.


Photo: Elizabeth Maier/Peoria Rivermen