PEORIA, IL – The last-place Bloomington Thunder may not be in last place much longer. A dismal team at the beginning of the season, the Thunder just took two straight against the Peoria Rivermen in Peoria. With 3269 in attendance Sunday afternoon, the Thunder head back to Bloomington with four more points in their pocket and momentum that may vault them out of the SPHL cellar and into playoff contention.
A scoreless first period was betrayed by a four-goal second period.
Some hard work in the neutral zone paid off for Tyler Amburgey and Taylor Larsen. Amburgey fed Larsen who skated in, faked a shot and then a pass, drawing his defender to the ice. Larsen then skated into the slot where his wrister gave Peoria a 1-0 lead at 6:57 of the second period.
During another Rivermen power play, lazy play behind their net led to Dennis Sicard to steal a pass in the slot. His shot bounced around the goal frame and in to tie the game with a shorthanded goal. The unassisted goal came at 13:04 of the second period, tying the game.
Twenty-five seconds later the Rivermen redeemed themselves when, still on the power play, the team swarmed Thunder goaltender Breton Lindoff. Matt Viola’s shot put the RIvermen back out in front 2-1 at 13:29 of the second period. Larsen and Charlie Carkin were credited with assists on the play.
Poor defensive effort by Peoria left Ron Cramer alone on the doorstep in front of Rivermen netminder Kyle Rank late in the period. Jason Pietrasiak passed the puck from behind the net and Cramer roofed the shot to tie the game up at 2-all at 17:20.
The third period started off with Bloomington’s Travis Granbois behind the net at the RIvermen end. He faked left, then right, then left again, with Rank moving side to side each time. The third time was the charm and Granbois wrapped the puck around, squeezing it in between Rank’s skate and the post for a 3-2 lead at 1:01 of the third period.
An unusual play at the end of the game led to a final goal by the Thunder. Rank was leaving the ice for an extra attacker when a linesman held up his hand to stop Rank, who was already near the bench. The extra attacker never made it onto the ice and Eddie Olczyk shot the puck in from the neutral zone to make the final 4-2.
Lindoff pocketed the win in his first action of the season, stopping 30 of 32 shot, including some incredible play to preserve the lead during a power play late in the third period. Rank stopped 18 of 22 shots for the loss.
The Thunder were unsuccessful in their only power play chance. The Rivermen scored twice in nine man-advantages but also surrendered the shortie to Sicard.
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