Rivermen Answer the Bell Against Huntsville 5-2

January 13, 2024 - 11:10 pm

PEORIA, IL – Sometimes a challenge is made and you have to answer the bell, to accept the challenge and the effort that is required to overcome it. The Rivermen answered that bell on Saturday with a 5-2 victory over the Huntsville Havoc in an emotion-fueled game that featured 175 total penalty minutes and several major fights before it was all over.

“It was about time our team found some identity and sometimes it takes sticking up for each other, it takes a unit, it takes becoming a family,” said Rivermen assistant Coach Eric Levine. “We showed that we stand up for each other and that we’re a family in that room and we saw a lot of guys step up, a lot of guys answered the bell and proved that not only do they want to play hard for their teammates but they want to play hard for the city of Peoria.”

The contest started quickly as Tristan Trudel received a head-man pass and stepped in on a mini-breakaway. Trudel rifled a shot into the back of the net to put the Rivermen up 1-0 less than a minute in. But Huntsville answered back on a quick passing play nine seconds later to tie the game up 1-1.

After killing off four straight penalties in the first period, Peoria wet back on the attack and found the go-ahead goal as Brennan Blaszczak found the back of the net and he back-handed a rebound into the net. As the Rivermen were celebrating, Alec Baer and Colan Fitzgerald slashed each other, and that caused a massive brawl that involved almost everyone on the ice. It took a while for the officials to restore order and sort through the deluge of penalties.

But when they did, the Rivermen did not let up. On the power play, Jordan Ernst split the defense and stepped in on a mini-breakaway, hooked on the play, he got the puck to the net and his shot produced a rebound that was put in by Braydon Barker on the right side to put Rivermen up 3-1. Still, on the power play (a hooking call drawn by Ernst) Cale List found the back of the net off of a wrist shot from the right-wing circle to give Peoria their largest lead of the new year at 4-1.

Huntsville was able to get one goal back early on in the third period, but the Rivermen responded late in the game as Jordan Ernst stepped behind the net and sent a centering pass to Spencer Kennedy right in front who roofed a shot into the top shelf to record his first goal as a Rivermen to secure a 5-2 victory.

“We cared. We cared enough to win our battles,” Levine said. “Even the mistakes that were made, it was still done with effort.”

Peoria will look to win the weekend series on Sunday afternoon in the season finale against Huntsville at Carver Arena. Face-off is set for 3:15 pm.

Photo: Elizabeth Maier - Peoria Rivermen