MOLINE, Ill. – The Quad City Storm lost to the Peoria Rivermen 5-2 on Hockey Fights Cancer Night Saturday. The Rivermen also defeated the Storm Friday 6-0, making the two-game series a sweep, but originally the two teams were never meant to play this weekend. A last-minute schedule change led to the Rivermen being the Storm’s opponent instead of the Vermilion County Bobcats, also adding a road game for Sunday in Vermilion County to replace Peoria visiting Danville.
The Storm went on their first penalty kill just 57 seconds into the game, as Alex Carlson was guilty of interference. Eleven seconds later the Rivermen scored, thanks to J.M. Piotrowski; Marcel Godbout and Nick Neville picked up the assists.
A little over three minutes after Piotrowski’s goal, Eliott St- Pierre appeared to begin to try to goad a Peoria player into a fight, cross-checking him in the back several times while the other player was on the ice after being checked into the boards. This skirmish quickly turned into a kerfuffle, as play had moved to the opposite end of the ice while St- Pierre was roughing the player. As soon as the whistle blew to stop the play, the rest of the skaters on the ice flew down to the Peoria zone to be involved in the scrum.
While St-Pierre was in the box for roughing, the Rivermen scored once more to make it a 2-0 game. Rivermen captain Alec Hagaman scored this goal, with help coming once again from Godbout and Neville on the power play unit. Storm Head Coach Dave Pszenyczny then made the decision to pull Josh Benson in favor of Kevin Resop.
Pszenyczny: “Sometimes you just have a gut feeling. Once again, it’s two power play goals. It is what it is, right? Sometimes you just do it to change things up. I felt like we needed a little mood change.”
The Storm were unable to score until the two teams both had a man in the penalty box a little under midway through the first period. The Storm went on their first power play at 7:26 of the first period as Mitchell McPherson took a seat for tripping, but eight seconds later Carter Shinkaruk was penalized for slashing. Forty seconds into the four-on-four stretch, Nick Magill-Diaz found the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
The second period was uneventful save for a goal by Zach Wilkie with roughly six and a half minutes left in the frame. The goal came after a flurry of shots against Jack Berry, the Rivermen goaltender, including one by Filip Virgili that was just the wrong side of the upright and bounced out.
The Storm had a five-minute penalty to kill in the early portion of the third period, as Mike Mercurio was ejected for a check to the head on Ben Assad just 76 seconds into the final frame. Assad and Mercurio came together near the QC blue line, Assad sliding all the way to the boards behind Resop afterward. Assad was slow to get back up but skated to the bench under his own power a moment later. Aaron Ryback served the major penalty, putting the Storm down two men for that span of time. It was while the Rivermen were on this power play that they went up 4-1, sealing the Storm’s fate. Joseph Widmar scored the insurance goal with assists from Wilkie and Jordan Ernst.
Nick Klishko scored his first Storm goal to draw the Storm within two goals, but it wasn’t enough to spark a complete comeback for the Storm. A few minutes later Virgili dropped the gloves with Alex Carrier in front of the Storm bench, Carrier picking up an extra two minutes for holding before the fight. That power play proved ineffective for the Storm, and with two and a half minutes remaining in the game, Pszenyczny pulled Resop to give his team the extra attacker. That still proved ineffectual, as Piotrowski scored his second of the night with just 63 seconds remaining in the match-up.
While former Peoria player Nigel Slade fought Wilkie with 20 seconds remaining in the game, there was no time for the Storm to draw from that energy and score again.
“The boys played with fire and passion. … There’s a lot of guys that stepped up,” said Pszenyczny. “I mean, we went down with two injuries pretty early in the first period, we’re running eight forwards up front… The don’t-give-up attitude was there tonight. That’s something we’ve been missing, so step in the right direction. We’re obviously not happy with the result, but once again, like I said, it’s very difficult when your flow of the game keeps getting ripped out from under us for no reason.”
The Storm continue to linger in ninth place in the league, holding only 30 points in comparison to league-leading Peoria with 54 points. Only four points separate the Storm from the Marksmen, who have a Thursday morning game against the third-place Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs this coming week.
The Storm are scheduled to have a Sunday matinee at Vermilion County on Sunday, with puck drop set for 4 PM.
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