PEORIA, IL — The Peoria Rivermen have punched their ticket to the 2022 SPHL Presidents Cup Finals by defeating the Quad City Storm 3-2 in game three on Saturday night.
It was a hard-fought battle to the end, nearly going to overtime, as the game-winning goal was scored on the powerplay with less than five minutes remaining in the third period. It was another one-goal game between the two teams, exemplifying the rivalry and competitiveness of the two teams.
The game began in favor of Quad City, which put five shots on goal to Peoria’s one in the first five minutes. The fortunes quickly changed for the Storm, however, as the Rivermen scored on their third shot on goal. Marcel Godbout scored his fifth goal of the playoffs at just under nine minutes and Nick Neville picking up the assist. The Storm would continue to outshoot the Rivermen 14-8 in the first period, but couldn’t solve Jack Berry in the first twenty minutes. Following Godbout’s goal, the Storm regained possession of the puck for several minutes but were unable to get any shots on goal. Connor Fries tied the game midway through the second period, sniping it past Berry unassisted. The Storm had still been dominating shots on goal through the second period, 11-6, but couldn’t find twine other than Fries’ tally.
The two teams traded goals in the third period, JM Piotrowski breaking the deadlock at 4:43 of the third period after going top shelf on Bailey Brkin’s right side. Tommy Tsicos once again evened the score eight minutes later, but a powerplay a few minutes later would seal the fate of the Storm.
The Rivermen went 1 for 1 on the powerplay on Saturday, their lone man-advantage goal coming with just under seven minutes in the final frame. The Storm penalty kill was standing strong, but in the waning seconds of the special teams’ appearance, Jordan Ernst found the back of the net. The Storm had nearly scored their own game-winning goal a few minutes earlier thanks to Fries and Michael Moran. The Rivermen turned the puck over to Fries, who began to take the puck up the ice. He passed it to Moran past the blue line, who attempted to shoot the puck on goal. Moran lost the puck near the net however, and play quickly returned to the Quad City zone.
Storm Head coach Dave Pszenyczny pulled Brkin for the extra attacker with 90 seconds left in the third period, but it would be too late for the Storm. The visitors had several looks at the net in the waning minutes, but couldn’t make their way onto the scoreboard. Peoria nearly scored an empty-net goal on two occasions, but Storm defenders either hustled to intercept the puck or the puck went sailing wide of the twine.
With Peoria’s win, they will face the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs in the President’s Cup Finals next week.
“It’s a game of bounces, right? Hockey’s hockey,”said Pszenyczny post-game Saturday, “sometimes you don’t get them, sometimes you work for them, sometimes you just get them because the hockey gods wanted to reward you. But you know I couldn’t have been more proud of that group in there, as far as their resiliency and how they came out after [Friday’s] performance. You know, we battled to the end. So the rivalry’s there, a great team over there with Peoria, and, you know, we’re one goal away from the finals.”
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