MACON, Ga. – Point proven.
The Peoria Rivermen showed that they were primed for a run toward the President’s Cup in a big way on Wednesday in Pelham, Ala. against the Pensacola Ice Flyers, dominating the first two periods in a 6-3 win.
The Rivermen now only need one win in the best-of-three series to advance to the semifinal round, and the remaining games in the series will be back home at the Carver Arena on Friday and on Saturday if needed.
Peoria jumped all over Pensacola early, leading 5-0 through two periods to put the game away. In fact, a total of 13 Rivermen registered a point on Wednesday, including Eric Levine.
Just shy of ten minutes into the game, a pair of Rivermen goals, first by Austin Wisely at 9:41 and another by Alec Baer 14:48 in made it 2-0 with both pucks getting past Ice Flyers goalie Sean Kuhn, who after that would relinquish the net to Cody Karpinsky the rest of the way.
No matter who was in net for the Ice Flyers, it did little to quell the Rivermen in the attacking zone.
Lordanthony Grissom, getting an assist from JM Piotrowsky made it 3-0 10:27 into the second. Then, a flurry of two more goals would stretch the Rivermen edge even more.
Jordan Ernst, getting assists from Nick Neville and Levine, made it 4-0 on a power-play goal 16:41 into the second, less than a minute before Mike Gurtler fed the puck to Casey Kulczycki for a 6-0. The postseason goal was a homecoming moment of sorts for Kulczycki, now with the Rivermen, having been a fan favorite for the Bulls prior to being dealt to Knoxville earlier this season.
Mike Laidley, getting an assist from Piotrowsky and Marcel Godbout in the third, claimed the lone goal for Peoria in the third in which the Ice Flyers finally found their footing with goals from Frederic Letourneau, Weiland Parrish, and Ivan Bondarenko.
By then, the game’s start had put Pensacola in a hole too deep to recover from. Peoria not only got a big early lead on the scoreboard, but was also whistled for six penalty minutes in the first period, stunting its ability to sustain as much offensively.
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