MOLINE, Ill. — The Quad City Storm honored First Responders on Saturday night with specialty jerseys that were auctioned off post-game following their 3-2 overtime win against the Pensacola Ice Flyers. The second of three games in four days at Vibrant Arena at The MARK split the weekend’s points, with Sunday’s matinee match-up being the deciding factor in who takes the weekend series.
The first period looked a bit better for the Storm than Thursday’s first period, until about 13 minutes into the game. The Storm played a more physical game than earlier in the week, throwing the body and delivering hits. Both teams took several penalties roughly midway through the first period, eventually leading to a 4-on-3 powerplay for the Storm for 43 seconds as Andrew Erwin, Tommy Tsicos, and Seth Ensor all sat in their respective penalty boxes. With only a coupleof seconds left on the 4-on-3 powerplay, Kolten Olynek found the back of the net with help from Jason Price and Jordan Henderson to end Sean Kuhn’s shut-out. “I didn’t think we played very well in the first, but that’s just me nitpicking, right?” said Storm head coach Dave Pszenyczny. Following the Pensacola goal, the Storm didn’t deflate or lose momentum as they are sometimes prone to do.
The momentum was still in the Storm’s favor going into the second period, averaging about a shot per minute in the first five minutes of the second frame. The Storm had several good chances to get on the scoreboard during that time, but couldn’t beat Brad Arvanitis.
The Ice Flyers then went up two goals roughly seven minutes into the second period after a defensive breakdown, as Mitch Atkins lit the lamp with a shot from the slot thanks to Garrett Milan and Dallas Comeau. The Storm played only five defensemen on Saturday, as Alex Carlson was called up to the ECHL Rapid City Rush on Friday. The Storm needed two points to stay alive, and a few minutes later the shut-out of Arvanitis was put to an end by Tsicos. Tsicos parked himself at the net front to wait for the puck, deflecting it in after receiving the pass from Taylor Pryce. Mike Mercurio also assisted on that goal on the man advantage. In the past, the Storm had often seemed reluctant to stay netfront and set up scoring opportunities from the edge of the crease. That seems to have changed now, as more goals are being scored from the low slot or edge of the crease.
“Obviously, we had a lost assignment on their second goal,” Pszenyczny said, “but after that, we kind of took over and limited them. I felt like they kind of ran out of gas, and we just kept sticking to the game plan and obviously prevailed. I would have liked to have won that in regulation, but you know at the end of the day, sometimes it takes 60, 65 minutes to win a game.”
The Storm seemed to control play in the second period, the momentum thoroughly in their favor. Neither team was putting lots of pucks towards the net, however, as the teams each only recorded four shots on goal in the entirety of the third period. The Storm tied the game at eight minutes on the dot of the final frame of Saturday’s game, their second unanswered goal of the night. Logan Nelson scored with a rocket of a shot from the right face-off dot to beat Arvanitis, Davis Kirkendall and Tsicos picking up the assists. While both teams fought hard for the next goal, the teams barely put any more pucks near the net in the remainder of the game. The Storm only recorded two more shots on goal through the end of regulation, as did the Ice Flyers.
The Ice Flyers were unable to fire any shots in Kuhn’s direction during the stretch of overtime, the Storm only making two shots on goal in that same span as they controlled the puck for most of the bonus hockey. Two shots were all the Storm needed, however, as Mike Moran scored the game-winning goal at the 2:05 mark of overtime hockey. Pryce assisted on that tally, taking the puck up the ice from near the penalty boxes after intercepting a clearing pass by Comeau. Pryce kept the puck and spun to keep it away from Comeau, sliding the puck to Moran who stood in the slot. Moran had been gunning for a goal all overtime, and finally got rewarded with the set-up from Pryce.
“[Kuhn] came in pretty big for us when we were needing him with some huge saves, so that’s always good to see,” said Pszenyczny. “And then you know at the end of the day, Prycer [stood out]. I mean we’ve been missing him for so long and him being in the lineup just really makes a huge difference for our team, right? Because he’s a leader by example, you know. When you’re a captain sometimes you’re a good talker and sometimes – it’s not to take away from him -, but he truly leads by example and we saw that tonight.”
All proceeds raised from the jersey auction on Saturday were donated to East Moline Police Department Officer Sgt. William Lind, who was wounded in the line of duty in October 2022.
The Storm remain in ninth place in the league with 40 points (19-24-1-1), while the Ice Flyers still hold on to seventh place and a play-off spot with 47 points (22-19-2-1).
The two teams will face off again Sunday for the rubber match with Pucks and Paws, as well as Margaritaville, being the themes for the game.
“I know Sunday games are normally a little bit more lax because you know you’re playing the same team three times. But nonetheless, our backs are against the wall, right? We gotta keep [being] sure we’re catching points, and we let two slip away the other night with a questionable call, but, you know, we’ve got to turn the page on that and look forward. We’ll enjoy the win tonight and then obviously it’s business tomorrow,” said Pszenyczny.
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