MOLINE, Ill. – Same problem, different night for the Quad City Storm. Taking on two different opponents in three nights, the Storm earned very different results between contests. The Macon Mayhem and Birmingham Bulls made the trip north from Georgia and Alabama respectively for an Illinois road trip, each playing in Peoria as well as Moline this weekend.
Extra hockey was on the menu twice this weekend, as both Friday and Saturday couldn’t be settled in regulation. Both were come from behind efforts from the Storm, the first one of the weekend resulting in two points against the Mayhem.
Each of the three nights, the Storm gave up the first goal. They came out for the first period looking lackluster, playing on their heels to start the game. With Macon in fourth place and Birmingham in second, it’s not surprising to see a difference in play between the Storm and their weekend opponents, but that doesn’t mean a clinic should take place on the ice, and it didn’t on Saturday.
Plenty of physicality was present for the penultimate weekend game, as the Storm literally battled back to take one point. The Storm did play well in the first period when they had possession — a rare thing, however. The penalty kill unit for Quad City neutralized three of the four-man advantages, a feat in itself due to Birmingham being second in the league for capitalizing on the power play.
Speaking on the penalty kill unit Saturday night, Coach Dave Pszenyczny said:
“We’re still having some lapses here and there, it’s just a lack of focus. Not getting the clear right, not bending your knees, it’s just simple basic stuff. Other than that, I mean we’re blocking shots when we need to, but if we can keep teams off the board, not allowing them to score powerplay goals, there’ll be better results for us at the end of the night.”
This weekend’s performance isn’t usual for the Storm, as they had beaten Peoria last week in regulation, and lost by one goal the night prior to Peoria. Quad City has been consistent in their inconsistency, as they vacillate from beating the top team in the league to losing 6-3. Birmingham also was playing their third game in three nights on Sunday, so the old excuse of the team being tired doesn’t cut it for me. Both teams had gone to extra hockey on Friday night as well, Birmingham winning the Friday contest same as Quad City did.
“Our M.O. right now is we’re not starting it off the first 20 minutes, or we’ll play five minutes and then it’s like we’re back to our old selves at the beginning of the season. Which I don’t understand why, since we’ve been playing pretty decent hockey as of late,” said Pszenyczny after Sunday’s 6-3 drubbing.
The Storm are capable of playing good hockey against the best teams in the league when they choose to. They’ve already demonstrated that against Peoria, and by taking Macon to overtime to win in a comeback. If not for their lackluster first periods each night, the results could have been much different for the Storm Saturday and Sunday. Not clearing the zone, delivering weak hits, and miscues in the defensive zone spelled doom for the team that’s ranked ninth in the league.
Sunday home games don’t seem to go well for the newest SPHL team, as the last Sunday game at the TaxSlayer Center was a 9-2 blowout suffered at the hands of the Knoxville Ice Bears. That same team will be the Storm’s first opponent this coming weekend, when they start another three-in-three on Thursday. The Storm then travel to Evansville for the final two games of the weekend to play the hapless Thunderbolts.
Be sure to follow @SinBinStorm on Twitter for the latest news about the Storm.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Just after this article was submitted, the Storm acquired Danny Cesarz from Knoxville for Mitch Mueller. According to the Quad-City Times, Cesarz is not expected to play against his former club on Thursday night. Dave Pszenyczny will join Matthew Harding and Mike Campos on the Inside the SPHL Podcast tonight at 8 pm CT.