MOLINE, Ill. — The Quad City Storm faced the Huntsville Havoc in their home-opening weekend, splitting the two-game series. It was a tale of two teams for the Storm, as vastly different results were evident at the end of each night. Some aspects of the Storm’s performance carried over between the two games, while others were drastically different. Let’s look at the breakdown.
The goaltending for the Storm was phenomenal both nights. Peter Di Salvo and Cody Porter each stood on their heads throughout 125 minutes plus a shootout. While Porter was pulled in the first period of Saturday’s contest, giving Di Salvo the brunt of minutes between the pipes for the weekend, it wasn’t a reflection of Porter’s performance that drew him out.
At media day earlier this month, head coach Dave Pszenyczny said his team was going to be the most disciplined in the league. His bench proved that on Saturday night when they avoided all but one trip to the sin bin. That lone trip was for a five-minute fighting major served by Josh Victor after a bout with Garrison Sanipass during the middle frame.
“I wasn’t lying when I said I wanted the most disciplined team, you know, play within the rules, but at the same time we needed to be more physical. I can live with a penalty being physical,” said Pszenyczny on Saturday night.
Penalty kill brings us to the next breakdown.
The Storm had no power on the power play during this series; 11 chances to score, none capitalized on. Through three games, the Storm have zero goals on 14 chances when having the extra attacker. During the last power play on Saturday night, Di Salvo was pulled for a sixth man — a two-man advantage — and it was for naught. The Storm remain the only SPHL team not to have even a single power play tally. Last season the Storm were successful 38 out of 198 times with the extra attacker, good for fourth place in the league. If the numbers don’t turn around quickly, the team could find themselves rapidly dropping from last year’s pace.
On both nights of the weekend series, though most evident on Saturday, was the fact that the Storm defense seemed confused. They screened their goaltender, couldn’t clear their defensive zone, and would chip the puck to the other team with no contest. On Friday, Pszenyczny said, “I think the D could’ve done a better job, whether eating it or just making a better play than just whipping it up the boards right to their d-man.” The Storm repeated their mistakes on defense to the extreme on Saturday.
The Storm had back-to-back games requiring overtime, first against the Peoria Rivermen on October 19 and then the home-opener on Friday. Both games had a final score of 3-2, but the Storm were on opposite sides of the win column for those games. While being able to close out the game in bonus hockey is good, on Friday the Storm gave up the lead twice before regulation ended. Only three of 56 games have been played so far by the Storm, so it’s too early to say a pattern has been established; they shouldn’t make a habit of having to finish games in overtime by giving up the lead, however.
Huntsville won back-to-back Presidents Cup trophies the last two years, and it was apparent when facing off against last year’s number nine team. The Storm were guilty of puck-watching, gazing as the Havoc dominated possession and had crisp passes. As the night wore on during Saturday’s contest, the Storm looked more and more desperate for another goal, and they lost cohesion.
“There was nothing simple about our game in anything. It was guys doing individual stuff,” said Pszenyczny.
The Storm will look to regroup during their first real road trip of the season, heading to Birmingham next weekend for another set of back-to-back games. The Bulls share a record with the Storm so far, each being 1-1-1 for the season. Each will look to go to .500 when they meet at 7:30 CT at Pelham Civic Complex on November 1st.
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