MOLINE, Ill. — The Quad City Storm defeated the Vermilion County Bobcats 4-1 in a special Thursday night game, holding onto first place in the league to start the weekend. It was a slow start for the teams, though the game began an hour earlier than usual for games at Vibrant Arena due to it being Thursday.
The Bobcats began the scoring at 6:26 of the first period, Adam Eby scoring his first goal of the season thanks to a rebound after a Justin Portillo shot. It had appeared that Eby had scored roughly a minute before, but play continued without the goal judge lighting the lamp.
Roughly seven and a half minutes later the Storm went on their first penalty kill of the night, holding the Bobcats to only three shots on goal during their man advantage. A minute after Trevor Momot left the box after his interference call, Michael Moran evened the game up at one apiece. Moran received the puck from Tommy Tsicos right after a face-off to Sean Kuhn’s left, Taylor Pryce picking up the second assist.
“We had a pretty slow start. First period we came out and we were pretty sluggish,” said Storm assistant coach Drew Otten. “After the first period I thought we came out and started doing what our game plan was, is get the puck deep, forecheck and generate opportunities off of our forecheck. I think we played down to their level in the first period, and finally started getting going in the second period.”
The second period saw Pryce score his first goal of the season with two seconds left on the powerplay. The Storm outshot the Bobcats 22-8 in the second period, having plenty of chances to extend their lead.
It wasn’t until five minutes into the final frame that the Storm took the 3-1 lead thanks to Pryce’s second goal of the season and night.
Bailey Brkin, the Storm goaltender, was run by Sulivan Shortreed in the second period, leading to a small kerfuffle. Kyle Thacker went after Shortreed with a few punches, with Carter Shinkaruk jumping in to take on a second Bobcat player in the scrum. Shortreed was the only one to be penalized at that time, though tensions would boil over later in the game.
Just over midway through the third period, aggression came out in full force. Matt O’Shaughnessy received a stick to the thigh or knee area after the whistle, taking an extended time to skate back to the bench from the Storm zone. Thirty seconds later, Moran tripped Peter DiMartino in front of the benches. While all eyes were focused there, Shinkaruk cross-checked O’Shaughnessy in front of the penalty boxes. O’Shaughnessy fell to his knees, where Shinkaruk began to pummel the other player. Shinkaruk was then ejected with a misconduct for continuing the altercation.
Filip Virgili added to the Storm’s lead at 16:39 of period three, sealing the deal for the Storm with just over three minutes remaining in the game. Logan Nelson, back in his number 9 jersey after the team’s suspension of Shane Bennett, picked up the assist on the tally.
“Pryce stepped up for us, he got the monkey off his back with his two goals he got tonight,” said Otten. “He’s been one of our top players from the beginning of the year. Fries has been there every night competing hard. I think it was an all around good win for everyone. I think we finally bought in after the first period and started playing the hard nosed hockey that we wanted to play, of bumping guys and getting in on forecheck and generating shots.”
The Storm will host the Bobcats again Friday to finish out the weekend series, and the Storm will then go on the road to Evansville on Sunday, November 13. The Storm continue to hold onto first place with 12 points (6-2), with second place Evansville in a two-way tie with the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs at nine points apiece. Puck drop is set for 7:10 for Friday’s game.
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