MOLINE, Ill – It was the worst of times, it was the better times. The Quad City Storm were a bit Jekyll and Hyde this weekend at home, and even within a single game, as the scores reflected. They faced off against the Birmingham Bulls for the first time in franchise history, and set a few records – not all of them good. With that being said, let’s break down the weekend.
The home team which took the ice for the final 20 minutes on Friday was not the same team that had gone up 5-0 against an undefeated team earlier game.
For those first 40 minutes, it was hard to believe that Birmingham was the undefeated team. The two teams are the most penalized in the league, and it’s easy to see why after 10 penalties were called between the two teams in the first period. Six of those penalties were coincidentals, so the special teams weren’t overly taxed to start the second frame.
Both teams appeared evenly matched for the most part, with shots on goal being fairly even as well. With the special teams playing so often, judging possession time in the first is a bit harder. The visitors didn’t allow the Storm to clear the puck out of the their defensive zone during the power-play. However, in the second period, the Storm looked like a team with something to prove – and they did. Four goals in 20 minutes was on the menu for the Storm, and they thought they had the game in the bag after being up 5-0. It appeared as though the Bulls were about to be swept away by the Storm.
In the third period, the Storm gave up, according to Coach Dave Pszenyczny. It quickly turned into a bloodbath with the Bulls scoring on five of their 11 shots. The Storm took it easy the first five minutes of the final frame, hoping to kill off time.
The Bulls then stole the game, showing that no lead is truly safe in hockey. Not to sound like an old-timer here, but it was reminiscent of the Mallards last season. Last year, the Mallards couldn’t hold onto a three-goal lead if it had handles on it. They couldn’t play a full 60 minutes, and that’s what happened last night for the Storm.
After leading for the first time in franchise history (it was their fifth game), the Storm then also set the record for first five-goal lead surrendered in team history. The Storm just gave up, plain and simple. They looked like a completely different team for the third period; it was as if the drive to win vanished during intermission. Birmingham skated circles around the home team, controlled possession, and showed why they were on a four-game winning streak. It wasn’t pretty to watch from press row.
Though no points were earned in the standings, it was perhaps a moral victory for the Storm on Saturday. They showed they’re capable of going against the better teams in the league without the excuse of bus-legs to detract from their opponents’ play. There were fewer penalties compared to the night before, but one penalty came back to bite the Storm. After being able to tie the game, the game-winning goal came on the power play.
Things were well and truly evenly matched between the teams for the most part – shots on goal were roughly the same for most of the game, it was a low-scoring affair with a mostly deadlocked score, and possession wasn’t overly dominated by one team or the other. There were plays by the Bulls which definitely appeared much better than the Storm’s, but there were just as many by the Storm.
Special teams were much less prominent on Saturday, with Birmingham killing both of their penalties while the Storm let one of six find twine. It’s worth mentioning, however, that the Storm did have an extended penalty to kill, as Ludlow Harris Jr earned five minutes for elbowing. Two minutes of that time was spent four-on-four, though, as Taylor Dickin served a penalty of high-sticking shortly after Harris Jr’s time began.
It was the best 60 minutes of hockey for the Storm since the home opener when they won in overtime, and though they didn’t end their losing streak, it was a valuable game. They weren’t an inferior team, they just didn’t get the bounces they needed while Birmingham did. Sometimes the hockey gods choose favorites, and on that day they sent the bounces to help Birmingham.
Of course, I have to mention the goal in the third period for the Bulls which wasn’t a goal. Looking at the video, it appears the puck crossed the line, but the goal judge and officials said it didn’t. While it was a lucky thing for the Storm, they couldn’t take the momentum to tie the game again after that.
— Mike Campos (@SinBinSPHL) November 11, 2018
“It’s just a game of bounces… we’re right there, we hit a crossbar there, we get in a little penalty trouble,” said Pszenyczny.
To hold the team that’s on a six-game winning streak to only two goals, and to have it be such a close game, speaks to the kind of team the Storm is. They’re capable. It’s just a matter of time until the pieces and the bounces all work together to bring the Storm their first two points since October 20.
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