MOLINE, Ill. — The Quad City Storm fell 4-1 on Thursday night to the Pensacola Ice Flyers in the first of three games in four days between the two teams. The Storm nearly took a 2-1 lead late in the third period, but the go-ahead goal was waved off and the momentum swung in the visitors’ favor. The Storm remain in ninth place and out of playoff contention, as the Ice Flyers still hold seventh place with 46 points.
The Storm were barely present during the first period, being outshot 12-6. Surprisingly neither team was able to score in the opening period, despite the Storm going on the penalty kill twice in the first 20 minutes. Pensacola leads the league in power play conversion at 32%, while Quad City is in the middle of the pack in sixth place for penalty kill efficiency with 78.8%.
The teams went to four-on-four hockey quickly in the second period, when Cole Golka and Brendan Sheehan both entered the penalty boxes at 1:01 of the second.
Pensacola took the lead at 7:49 of the second period on a goal by Andrew Erwin. The Ice Flyers had once again doubled up the Storm in shots on goal at that point, leading 19-8.
A few minutes later Nigel Slade and Dallas Comeau went to the penalty boxes for roughing after a scrum in Brad Arvanitis’ crease after the whistle. Davis Kirkendall then apparently decided Slade was lonely in the box and decided to join him after fighting Nick Leitner roughly a minute later. Leitner was decidedly not the winner of that fight, as he appeared to be knocked out for a second by a haymaker from Kirkendall that also cut his forehead from his visor. Leitner was helped off the ice by two teammates after receiving medical attention from the Ice Flyers’ athletic trainer.
“Kirkendall had an absolute beauty of a fight, we gained momentum – they may have only had maybe two shots after that [period],” said Storm Head Coach Dave Pszenyczny.
The Storm came out much stronger in the third period, eventually tying the game on a Taylor Pryce goal as he fell to the ice. A few minutes later the Storm went on a power play after the Ice Flyers played too many men, but the Storm’s 17.9% powerplay efficiency wasn’t enough to score on the man advantage.
The Storm then appeared to have taken the lead after Pryce scored his second of the night with six and a half minutes left, but the goal was immediately waved off due to an interference penalty called on Mike Mercurio. The official’s hand went up to signal a penalty before the puck entered the net, but upon watching the replay I fail to see interference.
The officiating had failed to see Ivan Bondarenko hold on to Jordon Stone’s stick and be dragged along the ice for a few feet in the middle of the second period after the two collided, but saw Jordan Henderson skate into Mercurio before the goal and called it interference.
“We should have been up 2-1, not having to kill,” said Pszenyczny. “And with six and a half minutes left, I like our opportunities especially because we were playing really good hockey up until then. And then when you give a team life like that running that 32 percent of the power play. It’s very frustrating and then no explanation, either.”
That goal, or rather lack of a goal, led to a complete reversal in momentum for the two teams. The Ice Flyers capitalized on the ensuing power play, and then scored twice more in the remaining five minutes of play. The last goal was scored on an empty net by Kolten Olynek, who had scored the power play goal as well. Between Olynek’s goals, Comeau scored with help from Andrew Durham and Bondarenko.
For Saturday’s contest, Pszenyczny said the biggest key to victory was to be present.
“Well, we’ve got to come out and play. We, for whatever reason, allowed [Pensacola] to dictate the first period. The outcome of the game was obviously determined by the officiating. So you know it’s frustrating because obviously, we didn’t play good in the probably first 30 minutes I would say, and then when Kirkendall found a dance partner I thought that was the momentum we needed. And then obviously we got the momentum taken from us.”
The Storm and Ice Flyers will retake the ice on Saturday at Vibrant Arena at The MARK before a Sunday matinee to close out the weekend.
Be sure to follow @FPHStorm for the latest news and live updates from the games.
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 2023 season!
- PHOTOS: Providence Bruins vs. Charlotte Checkers – 03/26/2023
- Ghost Pirates Survive The Final Battle of Georgia Tilt
- PHOTOS: South Carolina Stingrays vs. Cincinnati Cyclones – 03/31/2023
- PHOTOS: Evansville Thunderbolts vs. Pensacola Ice Flyers – 03/24-26/2023
- Quick Start Fuels Indy to Wheeling Win
- PHOTOS: Jacksonville Icemen vs. Orlando Solar Bears – 03/31/2023
- Bulls Rally Past Stingy Mayhem, Tied For First
- PHOTOS: Trois-Rivières Lions vs. Worcester Railers – 03/29/2023
- PHOTOS: Reading Royals vs. Wheeling Nailers – 03/25-26/2023
- IceHogs Prepare For Three Huge Games This Weekend