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Quad City Storm

2022-23 Quad City Storm Season Preview

2022-23 Quad City Storm Season Preview

MOLINE, Ill. — The Quad City Storm are set to begin the upcoming season, having re-signed many core players this offseason. Storm assistant coach Jake Toporowski left the team on August 25 after being named an assistant coach for the USHL Des Moines Buccaneers. The Storm added assistant coach Drew Otten on October 14 to help head coach Dave Pszenyczny behind the bench this coming season. The Storm have added several new faces to the squad as well and look to advance beyond the semifinals this year to finally have a chance to raise the Presidents Cup.

LAST SEASON IN REVIEW

Record & Playoff Appearance: 32-15-5-4, Finished Fifth in the league, lost in Semi-Finals to Peoria Rivermen

Season Summary: The Storm advanced to the playoffs for the first time this past season, though their biggest rival throughout the regular season was still their nearest. The special teams improved from the previous season, but there were still issues with penalties. When the team was out of the box, they played great hockey but led the league in times shorthanded. The Storm powered through the season to have their best record yet and lost to the eventual league champions in the semifinals on the road. 

Stats:/

  • Leading Scorer: Shane Bennett led the team in both goals scored and overall points, scoring 24 goals and adding 32 assists for a point-per-game average. Connor Fries, the first player to be announced as returning for the 2022-23 season, was the second most productive skater for the Storm, totaling 20 goals and 19 assists in 55 games.
  • Goals For/Against & League Rank: The Storm scored 191 goals over 56 games, putting them in fifth place in the league for scoring. They allowed 157 goals over the 2021-22 campaign, ranking them sixth in the league for red lights lit behind their netminders. 
  • PP Conv. Percent & League Rank: The Storm converted on the power play 21.3 percent of the time, scoring 49 goals on 240 opportunities while on the man advantage. This puts them fourth in the league for power-play conversion.
  • PK Conv. Percent & League Rank: The Storm ranked fifth in the league for penalty kill success at 82.8 percent. They allowed 41 goals while shorthanded, leading the league in times shorthanded at 238. They were second in the league for penalty minutes at 1080.

OFFSEASON MOVES

Key Acquisitions:

  • Alex Carlson: The fourth-year pro spent all of last season in the ECHL with the Iowa Heartlanders, the closest ECHL team to the Storm. Several Storm players were called up to the Heartlanders throughout the season, so he is already familiar with some of the players on this year’s roster. He previously played for the Knoxville Ice Bears beginning in 2019 after college. While not a scoring defenseman like Joe Sova was with the Storm, he’s a big body on the blueline who also had no problem taking penalties. He was released from a PTO with the ECHL Savannah Ghost Pirates on October 16.
  • Jacob Ratcliffe: In his three seasons with the NCAA III Westfield State University, the forward scored 30 goals with 32 assists in 80 games. During the summers, the Canterbury, NZ native played with the AIHL Sydney Bears in 2018 and 2022 and the West Auckland Admirals in 2020. This past summer, Ratcliffe scored 12 goals with 15 assists during 13 games with the Bears while being named an alternate captain. With over two points per game average in the AIHL, he may be the Storm’s next top scorer to replace Bennett.

Key Losses:

  • Bennett: As of this writing, the Storm’s leading scorer has yet to release any details regarding his status for this season. He led the team in scoring for all three of his years with the team, even in 2018-19, when he appeared in only 30 games after being traded from the Fayetteville Marksmen. Without Bennett on the team, Fries or Taylor Pryce will have to step up to take over the top-scoring spot.
  • Cody Walsh: As of this writing, no official details regarding his status for this season have been released. He was a blue-liner who brought experience, as well as grit, when needed. While not adding many points to the scoresheet, Walsh had no problem dropping the gloves or drawing a penalty when needed. The Storm will need to find another blue liner to name “The Sheriff” this coming season. 
  • Sova: As with Bennett and Walsh, no official details have been released regarding his status for this season as of this writing. Sova was a high-scoring defenseman, tallying six goals and 31 assists this past season. While a big body on the blue line, he had experience ranging all the way up to the American Hockey League in his ten years of professional hockey. Sova ranked second in assists for the Storm, right behind Bennett. Carter Shinkaruk, who ranked third with 25 assists last season, will be the returning player to look to for assists in this coming campaign if he returns from the Heartlanders. Shinkaruk signed a contract with the Heartlanders on October 13.

2022-23 SCHEDULE BREAKDOWNS

The Storm open the season against their nearest and dearest rivals, the Peoria Rivermen, on October 21, who will play host to the Storm for their own opening night on October 22. With the Rivermen, Vermilion County Bobcats, and Evansville Thunderbolts all within six hours on I-74, 35 of their 56 games will be against those three teams. The other 21 games of the season will be split between the Birmingham Bulls and Huntsville Havoc for two games each, the Fayetteville Marksmen for six games, the Pensacola Ice Flyers for three games, and the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs and the Ice Bears for four games each. 

The Storm’s longest homestand is at the beginning of the season, with five games from October 30 to November 11, with four games against Peoria or Vermilion County. Their longest road trip will be in the middle of March when the Missouri Valley Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament Hoops in the Heartland will occur. During that week, the ice will be covered with hardwood; while in the past, there were double-headers featuring the CBA’s Quad City Thunder and Quad City Mallards at what was then the Mark, a tournament requires the hardwood to remain in place for all four days.

TOP STORYLINE FOR 2022-23

It wouldn’t be unexpected for Fries to become the next top-scorer for the Storm, based on the numbers he’s produced in the last three years. With Bennett no longer leading the way, Fries should be able to step into that role without issue. However, he will have to out-compete the newcomers, who will be eager to prove their worthiness to remain on the roster.

PREDICTION SURE TO GO RIGHT

The Storm will build off of their success last year and learn from their miscues to once again advance to the semifinals in the playoffs. After that, it’s up to the hockey gods and pure grit to hoist the Presidents Cup.

PREDICTION SURE TO GO WRONG

The Storm could also get cocky and ride the wave of finally making it to the playoffs last season too far and not focus on the small details of hockey, such as working together to score. It’s possible for the team to fall apart midway through the season once the grind and injuries have set in and never recover from the midseason slump to plummet to tenth place in the league.

Download the Field Pass Hockey app from the iTunes or Google Play stores or follow @FieldPassHockey on Twitter for the latest news on the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL throughout the 2022 season!

    Anna Headley covers the Quad City Storm for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with her on Twitter @FPHStorm.

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