LAFAYETTE, LA – The Pensacola Ice Flyers are now one win away from hoisting their third President’s Cup in four years. Stephen Buco continued his solid play, scoring a goal and an assist as the Flyers defeated the Peoria Rivermen, 3-2, in Game 2 of the President’s Cup Final. The Ice Flyers are now 6-0 in the postseason, and have won five straight games against the top-seeded Peoria Rivermen.

The hockey gods have not smiled upon the Rivermen during the 2016 President’s Cup Final. For the second consecutive night, the Rivs had apparent goals disallowed which could have had an impact on the game. Unlike the goal reversal from Saturday night’s Game 1, the referee’s quick whistle undoubtedly cost Peoria an early first-period goal.

Less than a minute later, Rivermen defenseman Dave Pszenyczny gets a bit of retribution as he drives home the game’s first goal at the 10:11 mark of the first period. Benji Rubin finds Chezy on a cross-ice feed, which the blueliner promptly buried past Ice Flyers goalie Matt Zenzola.

The Rivs’ first lead of the President’s Cup Final lasted about a minute and a half. Peoria goalie Kyle Rank gave up a long rebound of a Ryan Kesti shot which landed by Ice Flyers forward Steve Bergin. Bergin’s shot from the top of the left circle tied the game at a goal a piece.

The second period belonged to the Ice Flyers. Pensacola took control of the game – and the series – with a pair of goals in the middle frame. At the 7:04 mark, Joe Caveney picked up a rebound in front of the crease after a Drew Baker blast from the left point and slid it through the open left side of the net.

Frustration and familiarity began to mount after Caveney’s goal, as play began to take a chippier tone. Referees Sean Fernandez and Lucas Martin, caught between letting postseason play progress and losing control of the game, began sending players to the penalty box. Three penalties were called – two against the Rivermen – were called in a four-minute span. In all, twelve penalties were whistled in Game 2 – seven against Peoria and five against the Ice Flyers.

After a Steve Morra slashing call expired – the last of the three penalty sequence during the middle of the second period – Pensacola struck again on Stephen Buco’s snipe from the high slot. Peoria coach Jean-Guy Trudel elected to pull Rank after Buco’s goal for David Jacobson.

Until the third period of Game 2, neither the Ice Flyers nor the Rivermen have had success on the power play. Pensacola’s penalty killing unit blinked first as they left Connor Toomey alone in front of Zenzola’s crease. Steve Morra found Toomey from the low right side and Toomey converted on Peoria’s first power play goal in the series at the 5:02 mark of the final frame.

The Rivermen continued their comeback attempt in the third period, but were hampered by penalties. Brandon Greenside and Cody Dion were both assessed minors in the third penalties, and the Rivermen were unable to mount a sustained attack with Pensacola settling back on defense. The Ice Flyers held on with solid defense and good possession shifts to send the series to Pensacola with the chance to close out the series on Thursday night at the Hangar.

The Sin Bin’s Three Stars

★ – Stephen Buco, Pensacola – The Ice Flyers forward added a goal and assist to his playoff-leading seventh point of the playoffs. Buco was +2 in Game 2, and +7 for the postseason.

★★ – Joe Caveney, Pensacola – Caveney’s second period goal gave him a point in five consecutive games.

★★★ – Connor Toomey, Peoria – Toomey’s tough play in front of the net finally paid off with his first goal – and the first power play goal by either team in the series.

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