MOLINE, Ill. – The Quad City Storm and Vermilion County Bobcats engaged in a home-and-home series this weekend, the Storm winning both contests. Though the outcomes were the same, the performances were vastly different, as Friday night the Storm won 6-2 in regulation but required overtime to win on Saturday.
Friday’s scoring started quickly, as the Storm found the back of the net just 94 seconds into the opening frame thanks to Connor Fries. The Storm had a quick flurry of goals in the next seven minutes, but on Saturday it would take the Storm almost 28 minutes to appear on the scoreboard. Vermilion County scored first with roughly six and a half minutes left in the first period, and from there it became a back and forth match of one-goal leads and deadlocks.
Though the Storm did manage to add a tally in the second period, very little went right for the team during the sandwich stanza.
“I thought the second period was awful by us,” said Storm head coach Dave Pszenyczny after Saturday’s game. “Last night, we were slashing the net, penetrating more. [Tonight] Finally, our character showed up when we needed it, powerplay came up when we needed it, and the PK. Unfortunately, you don’t want to give a team like that a point, but we’ll take the two.”
The Storm peppered Vermilion County goaltender Chase Perry with 63 shots on goal by the end of the night, while Kevin Resop faced only 19 through nearly 65 minutes. The Storm had lackadaisical passing and puck handling throughout the night, often passing to no one or just ahead or behind of their teammate. The teams did stay out of the penalty boxes for the most part, though it was of course a chippy weekend with several kerfuffles being broken up by the officials before gloves could be dropped on multiple occasions.
It was Josh Koepplinger’s first game back at the TaxSlayer Center since being traded to Vermilion County on February 9 after returning from the ECHL Jacksonville Icemen. He made his mark on the gamesheet several times with multiple penalties, such as when he tripped Resop and then was challenged by Cody Walsh to some fisticuffs behind the net. He also had two assists on Saturday night and one on Friday as well.
Carter Shinkaruk and Cole Golka also returned to the TaxSlayer Center this weekend, having been returned from their call-ups to the ECHL Iowa Heartlanders on February 8. Golka scored once on Friday, while Shinkaruk had two tallies on Saturday.
While the Storm did pull out a 4-3 OT win on Saturday, it was a game that shouldn’t have gone to overtime. While not an easy game, outshooting your opponent 63-19 means that quantity is there but not quality. Multiple times the puck would appear to go in the net or would be nearly into the net for the Storm, but neither puck luck nor lady luck was on their side.
The Storm begins the busiest part of their schedule next weekend, with two more three-in-three weekends to finish the month, before March ushers in five out of eight road games. The last Storm home game will be March 26th, as the Storm will finish the season on the road in April with a game in Vermilion County and two in Peoria.
“I just don’t think that you can take anything lightly from here on out,” said Coach Pszenyczny on Saturday. “We’ve got a playoff push coming up and we got to work on seeding right now. Every game is just as important as the next. At the end of the day, it’s gonna be a grind from here on out, our schedule is not easy, so we’ve got to make sure what we’re doing at the rink matches what we’re doing away from the rink, and we can’t have any imbalances whatsoever.”
Be sure to follow @FPHStorm for in-game live tweets and updates about the Storm.
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