MOLINE, Ill. – The first-place Huntsville Havoc traveled to Illinois this weekend to face the Quad City Storm, for a weekend set between two of the best teams in the SPHL. By the time it was over, the Havoc were heading back to Alabama with all four points on the weekend. Though, the Storm managed to pick up one point after a ten-round shootout on Saturday and remain in third place, two points back of the Knoxville Ice Bears, and nine points back of Huntsville.
Friday’s game had an inauspicious start, as 74 seconds into the game, Storm goaltender Bailey Brkin mishandled the puck after a clearing attempt and scored on himself. The trend of the Storm giving up the early goals in the following two periods continued, as the Havoc added goals within the first minute of both the second and third periods on Friday. The special teams shone for Huntsville on Friday, as they scored twice on even strength, once on the powerplay, and twice while shorthanded before eventually scoring an empty-net goal in the waning seconds of Friday’s game to take a 6-2 victory.
Quad City seemed dominant in the first period on Friday, but after allowing a goal just 28 seconds into the second period, the team lost momentum. The Storm nearly doubled up in shots on goal compared to the Havoc during the first period on Friday, and the only goal scored in that frame was the error by Brkin.
Assistant coach Jake Toporowski said Friday, “If you’re grading out of five, I’d give it two, two-and-a-half. I liked our first period. I think we both liked our first period. I thought we won the first period, not on the scoreboard, overall. After that, we got a little complacent. It kind of went downhill, obviously. We gave up the early goal in the second period. It didn’t really help us at all, and we gave up some shorties that we can’t really have.”
Though the Storm did finish out Friday night with 45 shots on goal to Huntsville’s 31, Toporowski called them “too perimeter. Tomorrow we need to get into their house as we call it, wreak some havoc, and score from there.”
The Storm did get into Huntsville’s house on Saturday, scoring first roughly midway through the opening frame before finishing the period with 12 shots on goal to the Havoc’s five. The Havoc came back to take a 2-1 lead into the second intermission, but would only have two shots on goal the rest of regulation.
“When we limit a team like that,” said Coach Dave Pszenyczny, “that’s supposed to be pretty dominant to the two shots in the third period, and they had more powerplay opportunities, kinda says something about the team. I can’t be sad with 14 skaters last night and then 15 tonight. It’s just one of those things.”
During the third period, the physicality went up a notch, as the teams battled in front of their goaltenders. The lone special teams’ goal of the night came thanks to Marcus Ortiz with his second of the night midway through the third period. It was a rather short powerplay, as Mathieu Newcomb had only been seated for nine seconds before Ortiz lit the lamp.
Bonus hockey was required on Saturday, followed by a ten-round shootout in which Ortiz; Bettendorf, Iowa native Mason Krueger; and Jacob Barber all shot three times each before the Storm fell 3-2.
The Storm will go on the road the next two weekends before returning home to the TaxSlayer Center on January 28.
“We’ve got a Friday, Sunday game this week and that’s nice in a sense that we’re not playing back-to-back,” Pszenyczny said. “For the most part, we play better on the road, if you look at our record, we’re pretty solid there. We just go get our two points and get out.”
The Storm will head to face off against the Evansville Thunderbolts Friday night before returning to Illinois to face the Peoria Rivermen next Sunday afternoon. Friday’s contest will begin at 7 PM CT, while Sunday’s matinee has a 3:15 PM CT puck drop.
Be sure to follow @FPHStorm for all the latest news and in-game tweets about the Quad City Storm.
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