Klecha’s Hat Trick Seals Rivermen Victory Friday

December 8, 2017 7:15 pm

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Klecha’s Hat Trick Seals Rivermen Victory Friday

OT winner propels Peoria into first place


Peoria, IL – The Peoria Rivermen used the first pro hat trick in the career of Dakota Klecha, including the game-winner 1:04 into overtime, to top the Huntsville Havoc 5-4 at Carver Arena Friday night. The win, Peoria’s fourth in a row, lifts the Rivermen to 10-4-1 on the season, good for 21 points and first place in the SPHL standings before a Saturday rematch with Huntsville.


The Rivermen broke the scoreless tie just before the midway point of the opening period. With the teams at even strength, the puck fluttered behind the Havoc goal, where Rivermen center Jacob Barber corralled it and shoveled a pass to teammate Connor Gorman on the right side of the crease. Gorman received the puck and stuffed it under the pads of Havoc netminder Mike DeLaVergne for the 1-0 Rivermen lead at 9:47 of the opening period. 


Peoria doubled their lead less than two minutes later while shorthanded. With Dave Pszenyczny in the sin bin for interference, Rivermen winger Ryan Siiro collected a loose puck in his own zone and sent a long pass to teammate Dakota Klecha at center ice. Klecha took control of the puck, sped into the Havoc zone, deked DeLaVergne and slipped a  shot past the sprawled netminder for the shorthanded tally, and 2-0 Rivermen lead at 11:57 of the opening frame.


The Havoc cut into the Rivermen lead in the closing seconds of the first period. From a scrum along the right-wing boards in the Peoria zone, winger Shayne Morrissey corralled the puck and sent a pass to teammate Jack Ceglarski, who cut across the low slot and flipped a shot over the shoulder of Rivermen goaltender Eric Levine and into the back of the net to cut the Rivermen lead 2-1 at 19:26 of the first period.


The Havoc evened the score early in the second period, with the teams skating four-on-four. Havoc winger Danny Smith slipped a pass to teammate Nick Lazorko, who skated into the left circle and snapped a shot around a Rivermen defender and past Levine to tie the game 2-2 at 5:19 of the middle stanza. 


The Rivermen regained the lead with a quick pair of goals past the midway point of the second period.  Pszenyczny flicked a wrister on goal from the left point of the Huntsville zone that Klecha deflected past an outstretched DeLaVergne for a 3-2 Rivermen edge at 12:56 of the second. 22 seconds later the Rivermen doubled their lead when Pszenyczny's pass to the net-front found the stick of Peoria winger Will Smith, who wrapped it around DeLaVergne's pad for a 4-2 Peoria lead at 13:18 of the period.


The Havoc re-trimmed the Peoria lead to one with a tally in the latter stages of the second period. With play raging in the Rivermen zone, the Havoc worked the puck to the high slot, where Huntsville defender Peter Sikalis wound up and fired a shot through traffic and past Levine’s glove for a 4-3 score at the 15:16 mark of the frame.


Huntsville re-tied the game at four apiece late in the third period. After winning a draw in the Rivermen zone, Havoc defenseman Nolan Kaiser took control of the puck at the right-wing point, and sent a pass toward the Peoria net, where teammate Danny Smith wrapped the puck around Levine for a 4-4 score at 15:16 of the third.


The Rivermen recorded the game-winner 64 seconds into the overtime period. While working the puck in their offensive zone in the three-on-three extra session, Rivermen defenseman Kevin Patterson fired a shot on goal that appeared to be heading wide, before Klecha crossed the slot and tipped the puck into the back of the net for the game winner, 5-4 at 1:04 of the extra session.


Levine earned the victory between the pipes, stopping 27 of 31 shots faced. With the victory, Levine improves to 7-1-0 on the year, and has won each of his last five decisions in net.


Notes: Smith’s second-period goal is his first professional goal, in his 12th professional game…With his three goals, Klecha earned his first multipoint game since 3/5/17 against Roanoke (1G, 1A) and first SPHL hat trick….Pszenyczny has 5 points in his last three games, include back-to-back multi point contests…The Rivermen and Havoc are set to rematch at 7:15 Saturday night at Carver Arena…Saturday night features the annual Rivermen “Teddy Bear Toss” for Charity…Saturday night is also Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles night with appearances from Michelangelo and Raphael…The Rivermen will wear special TMNT-themed jerseys to be auctioned off after the game…Tickets to the game are available by calling the Rivermen office at (309)-676-1040…The broadcast of the game can be heard, starting with the pre-game show, at 6:55 p.m. at http://mixlr.com/peoria-rivermen/


Group, single game, and season tickets for Peoria's 36th 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)