MOLINE, Ill. – The Quad City Storm are back in action Friday night after sitting out the 2020-21 season due to the impacts of COVID-19 in the state of Illinois. Eighteen months since they last took the ice, the Storm have brought back some familiar names, while signing quite a few new ones as well. The northern-Illinois-based team looks to make the playoffs this season for the first time in franchise history.
Last Season in Review
Record & Playoff Appearance: 2019-20: 16-20-6-2, No Playoffs Due to COVID
Season Summary: The Storm had a rough sophomore season, finishing the campaign that was shortened by the emerging outbreak of COVID-19 in eighth place. If the playoffs had started March 15th instead of the season being paused and then canceled, the Storm would have made the playoffs in their second season in the league.
Special teams were shaky out of the gate, but began to improve as the season progressed. The team had a habit of starting out slow and would dig themselves into a hole too deep to come back from when they began playing much stronger later in the game. If the consistency had been there, it’s very likely the Storm would have been sitting higher in the standings instead of in a three-way tie at the bottom with 40 points.
- Leading Scorer: Taylor Pryce and Stephen Gaul tied for leading scorer with 15 goals apiece. Pryce also had 16 assists in 42 games, while Gaul added 13 assists in 44 games.
- Goals For/Against & League Rank: The Storm were seventh in the league for goals for with a total of 123, and fifth in the league for goals against with 144.
- Power Play Conversion Percentage & League Rank: The Storm finished the 2019-20 season with a 14.86% power play percentage, putting them at eighth in the league.
- Penalty Kill Conversion Percentage & League Rank: The penalty kill unit ranked at ninth place in the league, as they killed off 79.17% of their penalties
- Dillon Fournier was signed on September 30th, bringing lots of experience to the team as he has 23 games in the AHL and 45 in the ECHL under his belt. Fournier was also drafted in the second round of the 2012 NHL draft.
- Connor Fries returns to the Quad Cities after winning the FPHL championship with the Columbus River Dragons. With the Storm in 2019-20, he scored 12 goals with 14 assists in 37 games. He also appeared in seven games for the Ice Bears last season, as the Tennessee-based team was one of five teams in the SPHL last season to not sit out due to COVID-19. In those seven games he scored two goals.
- Ryan Devine was the enforcer of the Storm in 2019-20, always willing to drop the gloves or throw the body around. He racked up 147 PIM in 26 games with the Storm, adding two goals and five assists.
- Sean Kacerosky has retired from hockey, moving into the medical field. He was an offensive blue-liner, scoring six goals with seven assists in 47 games 2018-19. He also scored one goal with three assists in 2019-20, having only played 16 games due to injury.
The Storm will have a different opponent to begin and end the season this year, facing the Evansville Thunderbolts to bookend the season instead of the Peoria Rivermen. A quarter of the season will be played against Evansville, and half of the season against Peoria and the new expansion team the Vermilion County Bobcats. It’ll be interesting to see how the two newest teams in the league fare against each other.
The Rivermen have always been a tough opponent for the Storm, taking many close games throughout the past two seasons. The test of the Storm will be whether they can improve their record against Peoria to not only raise their own win percentage but also drop Peoria in the standings to keep them out of the top spot.
The Storm will never see the Macon Mayhem or Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs this season, the latter of which was one point ahead of the Storm at the end of the 2019-20 season and the former one of two teams who were tied at 40 points with the Storm.
Top Storylines for 2021-22
The Storm will be fighting tooth and nail this season to make it to the playoffs, as the last time they played they had almost secured the final spot before COVID-19 put an end to the season. They’ll need to prove right from the first puck drop on Friday night that they want the playoffs. With the additions to the lineup they’ve announced and the returning players, they should make a leap in the standings from previous seasons
Prediction Sure to Go Right
The Storm will continue to build on the successes they had in the past two seasons to make the playoffs, probably making it in with the sixth spot for the playoffs.
Prediction Sure to Go Wrong
The Storm will finish the season in the top four in the league.
How will the Storm fare this season? Will they find themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff bracket, go deep in the playoffs, or win the President’s Cup? Let us know your thoughts.
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