PEORIA, IL – High energy hockey is what Rivermen head coach Jean-Guy Trudel wanted from his players after a lackluster 3-2 victory on Friday night. Saturday night they provided it, out-skating the Knoxville Ice Bears and pocketing their second victory in as many nights. The 3,718 fans in attendance were treated to a show featuring three fights and four goals by the home team and cheered their team on to a 4-1 victory
The score at the end of the first period was 1-1 but that doesn’t really do any justice to how the game started. Six skaters paired up at the opening face-off and dropped the gloves.
Peoria’s Adam Feniak and Knoxville’s David Segal fought, with Feniak getting in a few good punches but not able to match the more experience Segal with the fists. Ice Bear Corey Fulton and Rivermen Tyler Amburgey ended up in a pile on the ice but was not officially called a fight and neither played was penalized. Most of the attention was on Knoxville’s Brad Pawlowski as he pounded Rivermen enforcer Aaron McGill. According to the game officials, McGill never dropped the gloves as Pawlowski was hit with an instigation penalty, a major penalty for fighting and a game misconduct for being the aggressor while McGill was not penalized. The end result was a 5-on-3 power play with Fulton in the box with a minor in addition to the minor and major penalties on Pawlowski.
During that opening power play, Garrett Vermeersch passed the puck left from the top of the slot down to Jeremiah Ketts. This drew Knoxville back-up goalie Cody Rosen to his right at which point Ketts passed all the way across the ice in front of the goal to Nick Prockow who buried the one-timer for the 1-0 lead for the Rivermen.
After killing off the major penalty and another 5-on-3, the Ice Bears were able to settle in and make it a game. They tied the score when Ben Power waited for a play to develop in front of him and passed to Francis Drolet who put the puck past Rivermen netminder Eric Levine at the 17:56 mark of the opening period.
After a scoreless second period, the Rivermen were gifted with their third 5-on-3 power play early in the third period. Good passing by Prockow and Joe Schiller put the puck on Vermeersch’s stick at the top of the circle where he one-timed it past Rosen. This gave the Rivermen a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish just 4:35 into the final frame.
Peoria tacked on insurance goals late in the period. The first was by Tyler Larsen at 16:03 sent a shot low past Rosen’s stick side that made it 3-1 on another power play. Just 50 seconds later after a nice save by Rosen following a neutral zone turnover, Amburgey stole the puck again in the neutral zone and fed Justin Gvora who raced in and scored on a backhander to make the final score 4-1.
Levine put in a fine performance after sitting out last weekend with back spasms. The Rivermen goalie stopped 30 of 31 shots. Rosen played well but suffered from defensive letdowns in front of him late in the game. He stopped 30 of 34 shots.
Peoria had eleven power play opportunities against the third-most penalized team in the league, scoring three times. With the Rivermen as the least penalized team in the SPHL, the Ice Bears only had three man-advantages and did not score.
These same two teams face off again next weekend, this time in Knoxville.
Contact the author Shaun.Bill@ProHockeyNews.com or follow him on Twitter @SLBatPN.