FAYETTEVILLE, NC – If you read much at all about the Fayetteville FireAntz and their 2016-17 season so far, you are probably tired of seeing the name Sean Bonar. Well, you better get used to it because Bonar is on his way to re-writing the record books of the SPHL. Bonar once again reigned supreme in net while doing his best impersonation of a brick wall in leading his team to a crucial 4-1 victory over the Peoria Rivermen.
Unlike last night’s slow start, the FireAntz jumped on the Rivermen early in this one as SPHL goal scoring leader Jake Hauswirth found himself all alone in front of Rivermen rookie goalie Storm Phaneuf to give the Antz a 1-0 lead. Hauswirth’s league leading 24th goal came off a nice set play off draw to the left of Phaneuf.
Later in the first period, rookie center Evan Dixon finished off a nice feed from behind the net by Max Cook to give the Antz a 2-0 lead. The goal came at the 12:29 mark of the first period and seemed to send the Rivermen into panic mode. Rivermen head coach Jean-Guy Trudel changed goalies after the first intermission inserting Tyler Parks into the game, a day after he put up a solid performance in a 2-1 shootout loss. The goalie change did little to slow down the FireAntz from lighting up the scoreboard.
Taking advantage of a couple of power play opportunities, FireAntz defenseman Nick Rivait calmly deposited a couple of wide open shots past Parks to put the FireAntz out in front by a score of 4-0. Rivait’s first power play goal came at the 8:24 mark of the middle period on a nice backdoor setup by Bobby Chaumont. Forward Taylor Thompson also got an assist on the goal to extend his SPHL points and assist lead. Rivait was not done however as he quickly struck again on a power play at the 10:42 mark of the second period. Left all alone near the slot to the left of Parks, Rivait waited and picked a corner to tally his second goal of the game and fourth goal of the season. Again both Chaumont and Thompson would pick up the assists on the power play goal. The rout was on.
Despite efforts to bump and crowd Bonar in the crease area, Bonar remained unphased throughout the game. His positioning was rock solid and his reflexes were cat-like, flashing the pads out at the last minute to stop point blank shots put on net by the Rivermen.
In sports, you hear phrases like “the guy is in a zone” or “he is locked in”, well there is no other way to put it but Bonar was and has been in a zone and locked in. The only Rivermen goal was scored on a lengthy 5-on-3 man-advantage where Adam Stuart was left alone and sent a back door feed into the empty net to spoil the shutout bid. Bonar didn’t seem to mind much as he racked up 35 saves on 36 shots, 16 of those saves in the final period. While the Rivermen kept throwing pucks at Bonar, the FireAntz only managed to get 18 shots on goal but made four of them count.
Both Rivermen goalies ended the game with seven saves on nine shots. Thompson’s two points raised his point total to 55 on the season and Chaumont’s two points leapfrogged him into a tie for third in the SPHL in the points race. The FireAntz have the top-3 point producers in the SPHL now in Thompson, Hauswirth, and Chaumont.
The Rivermen dropped to 26-11-10 good for 62 points on the season while the FireAntz sit at 30-14-2 good for 62 points as well. The FireAntz do have a game in hand on the Rivermen and an upcoming three-game series in Peoria looms large for both of these teams towards the end of the month.
SinBinFireAntz 3 Stars of the Game:
1st star: G Sean Bonar
2nd star: D Nick Rivait
3rd stars: F Taylor Thompson/F Bobby Chaumont