Rivermen Come Back to Steal Opening Night Shootout in Evansville

October 21, 2017 7:15 pm

Away | Regular

Evansville Thunderbolts


Photo Credit: Addison Blair/Peoria Rivermen

Rivermen Come Back to Steal Opening Night Shootout in Evansville

Peoria notches 3 unanswered goals to force OT before taking SO victory Saturday


Evansville, IN – The Peoria Rivermen came back to erase a three-goal second-period deficit, force overtime, and snatch a win from the Evansville Thunderbolts Saturday night at the Ford Center. The win, Peoria’s first of the season, puts the Rivermen two points behind Mississippi for first place in the SPHL standings.


The Thunderbolts opened the scoring with a pair of goals early in the game’s first period. With Rivermen winger Alec Hagaman in the box for slashing at the 12:35 mark of the first period, and chaotic play ensuing in front of the Rivermen net, Evansville winger Justin MacDonald put the puck past Rivermen goaltender Eric Levine at the 13:08 for a 1-0 lead. The Thunderbolts’ lead doubled just 1:23 later when Thunderbolts winger Mark Petaccio cruised into the left wing of the Rivermen zone and rifled a wrist shot past Levine’s glove for a 2-0 lead.


The Rivermen got on the board and cut the Evansville lead in half late in the first stanza. After a faceoff in the right circle of the Rivermen zone, Peoria worked the puck around the top of the zone to the left point, where Peoria defenseman Ben Oskroba fired a shot toward the net. Oskroba’s drive was blocked in front, and Rivermen winger Cody Dion found the puck in his skates, turned, and fired it past Thunderbolts netminder Jonah Imoo at 18:05 of the period to make the score 2-1.


The Thunderbolts built their lead to 4-1 with a pair of markers in the middle portion of the second period. With Oskroba on the shelf for holding, Evansville worked the puck to Frank Schumacher in the right-wing corner, and he walked across the goalmouth and stuffed the puck under Levine’s pads for a 3-1 lead at 8:12 of the second. The score grew to 4-1 at the 12:20 mark of the period when MacDonald took a pass on his way out of the penalty box and drove to the Peoria net, where Levine made the initial save but failed to deny Brandon Lubin’s putback attempt.


Peoria got back to within a pair of goals in the second period’s final minute. Rookie Rivermen center Jacob Barber took a long stretch pass from Peoria defenseman Kevin Patterson, sped to the bottom of the left-wing circle in the Evansville zone, and lofted a shot over Imoo’s shoulder at 19:03 of the second period for a 4-2 score.


The Rivermen pulled to within a goal with a power-play tally in the early stages of regulation’s final period. With Lubin sent to the locker room for a major elbowing violation, Peoria worked the puck to veteran defenseman Dave Pszenyczny atop the slot. The Rivermen captain collected the pass, wheeled, and fired past Imoo off the inside of the right post 4:00 into the third period to cut the Thunderbolts lead to 4-3.


Peoria tied the game during a 4-on-4 period toward the midpoint of the period. With Lubin’s major penalty still being enforced and Dion in the sin bin for high-sticking, Peoria winger Connor Gorman raced into the Evansville zone and threaded a cross-ice pass through the Thunderbolts defense to rookie center Justin Greenberg, who fired it past Imoo to tie the game 4-4 at 6:14 of the frame. The score remained tied 4-4 through the rest of the third period and overtime, and the game descended into a shootout.


As the shootout began, Thunderbolts winger Dave Williams was turned away by Levine, as was Peoria center Joseph Widmar by Imoo. After Levine denied Pataccio’s attempt, Barber ripped a shot past Imoo’s blocker to put the Rivermen ahead. Following an unsuccessful attempt by John Scorcia, Greenberg’s effort trickled through Imoo’s body to give Peoria a 2-0 edge. Evansville forward Dylan Clarke’s effort was snapped up by Levine’s glove, sealing the comeback win for the Rivermen.


Levine stopped 36 of 40 shots faced in net, and all four shootout attempts against, to earn the win in net for the Rivermen, his first in the SPHL since November 27, 2015. The victory lifts Levine to 16-11-5 in his Rivermen career.


Notes: Barber and Greenberg each notched their first pro goals, with Barber adding his first pro GWG and two-goal performance…Patterson and Widmar each tallied assists for their first pro points…Gorman recorded his second career multi-assist night, and first since a January 6, 2017 Rivermen win at Mississippi…With the win, the Rivermen are 3-2 all-time on Opening Night during Peoria’s SPHL era, and 2-0 when starting the season on the road…The Rivermen return to action Tuesday morning, returning to the Ford Center for a 10 AM puck drop against the Thunderbolts…Tuesday’s game can be heard, starting with the pre-game show, at 9:40 p.m. at http://mixlr.com/peoria-rivermen/


Group, single game, and season tickets for Peoria's 35th season of professional hockey presented by Midwest Orthopaedic Center are on sale at the Toyota Box Office in the Peoria Civic Center, or by phone at the Rivermen office, located at 201 S.W. Jefferson Street, or over the phone at (309) 676-1040. For the latest Rivermen news and notes, follow online at www.rivermen.net or through Facebook (www.facebook.com/PeoriaRivermen) - Twitter(https://twitter.com/Peoria_Rivermen)