Peoria Wins Heavyweight Bout with Birmingham 2-1

March 1, 2024 - 10:30 pm

PEORIA, IL – the battle between the top-ranked Birmingham Bulls and the second-ranked Peoria Rivermen did not disappoint as the Rivermen defeated the Bulls 2-1 in front of 3569 fans at Carver Arena on Friday night.


The Rivermen came out flying, attacking the Bulls and frustrating their offensive transition attack. The Rivermen sent 13 shots on net but Birmingham goaltender Hayden Stewart was able to make some dynamic saves to keep the game scoreless through the first period.


In the middle stages of the second period, the Bulls were able to capitalize on a five-on-three power play to score the game’s first goal from a close-in shot. But the Rivermen soon got a power play of their own and took advantage. A face-off win saw Jordan Ernst get the puck at the left-wing point. Seeing room, Ernst fired a low, but hard slapshot toward the net that was deflected by Brayden Barker right in the slow slot. Barker’s deflection sailed into the back of the net to tie the game up at 1-1. The Rivermen went back on the attack in the final seconds of the period, but just like the first period, Stewart made several spectacular saves to keep the game tied.


Peoria dictated the play in the third period, pushing the pace and denying Birmingham’s attack through the neutral zone. The decisive moment came as Cayden Cahill drove the net from the right-wing side and took a shot in close. The puck filtered through Steward and laid loose at the goal line for a second. It wasn’t long but it was enough for Mike Gelatt to sweep in and force the puck into the back of the net for the go-ahead goal of the night. The Rivermen held the line for the remainder of the third to come away with a 2-1 upset of the Birmingham Bulls.


Peoria and Birmingham will do battle again in their last meeting of the regular season on Saturday night at Carver Arena as Ben Bishop will be inducted into the Rivermen Hall of Fame. Face-off is set for 7:15 pm.


Photo: Elizabeth Maier - Peoria Rivermen