Peoria’s Comeback Falls Short in Evansville 5-4

February 24, 2024 - 10:25 pm

EVANSVILLE, IN – Despite a valiant effort in the third period, Peoria’s bid for a comeback fell short on Saturday as the Rivermen fell to the Evansville Thunderbolts 5-4 at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana.


It was a slow start for both teams as the Rivermen and the Thunderbolts had a bit of a feeling-out period to start off the period. Late in the first, Jordan Ernst was assessed a penalty for roughing but held his cool as Evansville forward Matthew Hobbs came from across the ice to try and fight Ernst. Both men were assessed a two-minute penalty which opened up the ice for the Rivermen late in the period. Moving the puck well four-on-four, Cayden Cahill stepped in over the offensive blue line and then dropped it off for JM Piotrowski who was crossing behind him. On a mini-two-on-one Piotrowski showed great patience before saucing a pass to the back door for Chase Spencer who buried his second goal of the season with 23 seconds left in the period to give Peoria a 1-0 lead.


The Thunderbolts struck back just 98 seconds into the second period as both teams got a man back from the four-on-four that led to Peoria’s first goal. A two-on-one rush found the back of the Rivermen net and tied the game up 1-1. That goal by Evansville ignited a three-goal streak over the next nine minutes that had the Bolts up 4-1 midway through the contest. Peoria was able to stop the bleeding with Alec Hagaman’s power-play tally, his second in as many nights, but the Rivermen faced a tough task down 4-2 going into the third.


Peoria mounted a valiant comeback effort in the third, killing of penalty at the start of the period and getting quality chances. Those chances led to goals as Piotrowski forced a turnover in the right-0wing corner and sent a centering pass to Braydon Barker in the slot. Barker made no mistake firing the puck into the back of the net to pull the Rivermen within one goal. Unfortunately, the Rivermen surrendered a power-play goal in the final minute of regulation time. Although Hagaman netted his second of the game a few seconds later, Peoria couldn’t find the tying tally and was forced to skate off the ice with a 5-4 loss and a weekend split with the Evansville Thunderbolts.


The Rivermen will be back on home ice for the first three weeks of March, starting this coming Friday when the first-place Birmingham Bulls come into Carver Arena for a Friday-Saturday series.