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Storm End Losing Streak on Unlucky Day

#SPHL | There was no bad luck on Friday the 13th for the @QuadCityStorm, who snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over the @VCBobcats on Friday. @FPHStorm has a recap and reaction

Storm End Losing Streak on Unlucky Day

MOLINE, Ill. — The Quad City Storm ended their four-game losing streak on what is normally considered an unlucky day — Friday the 13th. The first of a home-and-home series, the Storm took Friday’s game 4-2 with a buzzer-beating empty-net goal. The Storm welcomed their in-state rival, the Vermilion County Bobcats to Vibrant Arena at The MARK for the first time since November 11, as the two games scheduled for December 22 and 23 between the teams were postponed due to inclement weather. November 11 was also the last time the Storm won in their arena. 

“[Tonight was a] roller coaster, right? Just when you think you’re kind of getting over that hump, you know, we have a mental breakdown,” Storm Head Coach Dave Pszenyczny said. 

The game began with penalties, as Dillon Fournier took Gianni Vitali hard into the boards on a check at just 58 seconds of the first period. The hit looked clean but dangerous, as Vitali appeared to hit the boards with the back of his neck and was slow to get up. Bobcats captain Justin Portillo then jumped on Fournier to retaliate for the hit, and both he and Fournier were given two-minute minors for roughing. Just under a minute later, Mathias Ahman was called for interference, giving the Bobcats just over a minute of five-on-three action before Fournier would leave the box. Brendan Murphy scored his first goal of the season while on the powerplay that resulted from Ahman’s interference call, Austin Albrecht and TJ Sneath earning the assists on the tally that came from the point. 

Though the Storm nearly doubled the shots on goal that Vermilion County had, it wasn’t until the last minute of the first period that the Storm made a mark on the scoreboard. Matt Ustaski fired a shot toward goaltender Brett Epp, who made the initial block. Ustaski’s second shot on the rebound then deflected off an opposing player’s skate. Captain Taylor Pryce, still in a cage from last Friday’s game, was credited with the assist. 

The second period was full of shots on goal from the Storm, but not much in the way of penalties or scoring. Ustaski earned his second of the night just over midway through the second frame, once again picking up a rebound to find twine. Michael Moran and Logan Nelson, in his first game back from the ECHL, earned assists on Ustaski’s second goal. Five minutes later, the Bobcats tied it up thanks to a shorthanded tally by Davis Kirkendall just before the penalty expired. Vermilion County had gone on the penalty kill after a holding call against goaltender Epp which was served by Tyler Dill. There was a scramble by the Bobcats’ net as Epp came out to play the puck, fell and lost his stick to the corner, and attempted to get back to the net. As he came back towards the net he gave a hug to one of the Storm players, earning the penalty. Only three seconds remained in the Bobcats’ penalty kill when Kirkendall scored.

“[The plan tonight was to] Play our game,” Pszenyczny said. “We got away from it a little bit, and it showed. But nonetheless, … it’s obviously nice to get a win. It’s been a while since we’ve had that feeling. We put up almost 50 shots against. At what time are they going to start going in there, right? But still some individual mistakes I’m not very happy with, and made my job easier, used a short bench towards the end there.” 

A minute after a Storm powerplay ended in the third period, Cole Golka scored the game-winning goal in his first game since December 16 after being out on the injured reserve. Golka deflected in from the slot Trevor Momot’s shot from the point, giving Momot the primary assist and Tommy Tsicos the secondary. The shots on goal were nearly even in the third period, though the Storm had battered Epp in the first two periods to nearly double the total shots on goal by the end of the night. The Storm were unable to convert on any of their five powerplays throughout the night and now are eighth in the league for powerplay conversion with a 19.1% conversion rate. However, they are second best at penalty kill, with 80.3% of penalties killed. 

Tsicos scored his first goal of the season as the horn sounded to end the game, making the final score 4-2. The all-time leader in Storm games played, he scored 14 goals last season in 52 games. Pryce and Fournier were credited with the assists on Tsicos’ goal.

The Storm will be on the road to finish the home-and-home series in Vermilion County on Saturday. Looking into the future, Pszenyczny said, “I mean they’ve gotten better, right? They’re a good team and you know, they have an advantage with that home ice. So we’ve just got to go there and play a smart game.”

Be sure to follow @FPHStorm on Twitter for the latest news, updates, and in-game tweets throughout the season.

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    Anna Headley covers the Quad City Storm for Field Pass Hockey. Follow and interact with her on Twitter @FPHStorm.

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