MOLINE, Ill — The Quad City Storm began their 2021-22 season at home with two games that could not have been more different. While the visiting Evansville Thunderbolts would take four points back to Indiana, Quad City took one point from Saturday’s contest. While some mistakes were fixed for Saturday’s match-up, some remained.
Friday’s season-opening contest between the Storm and Thunderbolts saw two different intensity levels from the Storm. Still, it was too little too late as the intensity improved from the first two periods to the final one. The Storm had already played themselves into a hole before the start of the third period, as the Thunderbolts dominated them for over 40 minutes. Friday night, head coach Dave Pszenyczny said:
“First two periods [were] brutal, third period [we] dominated. It’s no secret that when you come to work, good things happen, and unfortunately, I thought we were a little scared and intimidated in the first probably half of that game.”
The Storm have a habit of coming out poorly at the start of a game and finishing stronger, but not being able to pull off a win because of the poor performance early on. Friday was no exception to that pattern, as Pszenyczny called it a “tale of two tapes.”
While the desired level of physicality was there from the get-go, the Storm often wound up in the penalty box on Friday as the physicality was misdirected from productive to abnormal, giving Evansville another chance to add a goal while controlling the game. Matt Stoia has taken the role of enforcer at least this past weekend, but the physicality and aggressive play can’t come from only one or two players. Of Stoia, Pszenyczny said:
“Loved Stoia stepping up for our teammates and he’s our youngest guy in our dressing room. But at the same time, when you’re wanting team toughness — and I can’t take away from some guys, I know they were trying, but that’s hockey, right? Definitely not the reason why we lost the game, but I think at the same time to try to give your goalies confidence, you don’t need to have their bodies in front of our net, so make it a living hell, and we just didn’t do a good job in front of our net.”
The net-front presence and the physicality did improve overnight, as the Storm came out for the first period on Saturday, showing all the aggression for a physical game but without the scoring power at first. It wasn’t until the second period that anyone could break the stalemate and eventually send the game to extra hockey. The Storm did well staying out of the box for the most part on Saturday. However, they did give up a short-handed goal as rookie goaltender Bailey MacBurnie made a miscalculation to allow Evansville to score after coming far out from his crease to touch the puck.
“[MacBurnie] played well for us. I wish he had the two points that we all wanted, but he stood in there for us, and that game could have easily went our way with some opportunities that happened, but it is what it is at the end of the day.”
During the early parts of the second period, the Storm looked a little more intimidated than they had in the first, as the shots on goal were 14-12 to start the second period. They began to regain their footing, but a battle of the goalies was required before a winner could be named. The net-front presence was improved for Saturday’s contest, as the team did clear the zone in front of their net and defended their goaltender when he was run into.
The Storm will have another opportunity to earn four points against Evansville next weekend, as they play a home and home series. The Thunderbolts will open their season at home at 7 PM CST on Friday, and on Saturday, play will return to the TaxSlayer Center with a 7:10 PM puck drop.
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