Head Coach: Jean-Guy Trudel begins his 4th season as the Rivermen bench boss, compiling a 105-47-16 record and is the only two-time SPHL Coach of the Year (14-15, 15-16).
Captain: Dan Bremner starts his 2nd season as the on-ice leader.
Last Season: 39-12-5 – SPHL record 83 points – 1st place regular season finish – Lost to Pensacola in President’s Cup Final (0-3)
2015-16 Season Summary – The Rivs record-setting year got rolling in mid-season when they went on a league-high 14-game winning streak in December and January. Riding a strong defense and the consistent goaltending from Kyle Rank, the Rivermen ran away with their second consecutive regular season title. In the postseason, Peoria overcame a playoff-opening road loss to Macon with a pair of wins in Peoria to eliminate the Mayhem. In the semifinals, the Rivermen then swept the Fayetteville FireAntz in historic fashion – allowing zero goals in a series sweep of the Antz. Peoria’s run at their first President’s Cup came to an end at the hands of the Pensacola Ice Flyers. The Rivermen were swept in three games – including the decisive Game 3 which was lost with one-tenth of a second in regulation.
Hot or Not?
Not (In comparison to the 15-16 team). It’s almost unfair to say that the Peoria Rivermen can improve on last season’s 39-win season. The retirement of two-time SPHL Goalie of the Year Kyle Rank leaves a huge void in net for the Rivs. Still, the Rivermen boast one of the best bluelines in the league and Guy Trudel has a knack for finding goaltending talent. The Rivs won’t reach 80 points this season, but will still contend for a third straight regular season title.
- LW Dan Bremner – The gritty veteran, described by Trudel as “Having zero regard for his own body,” is the heart and soul of the Rivermen.
- LW Steve Morra – A speedy, consistent scoring threat. One of the Rivs best clutch players.
- C Josh Harris – Should be fully recovered and rehabbed after a major injury early last season.
- G Kyle Rank – The retirement of the perennial All-SPHL goaltender will be difficult to fill
- RW Adam Stuart – Left to play in Germany, but returned and is now signed by the Knoxville Ice Bears.
- D Brandon Greenside – Reigning SPHL Defenseman of the Year. Scored 37 points (6G/31A) with a plus/minus of +31. Played over the summer in Australia, but remains unsigned.
- G Shannon Szabados – Arriving from Columbus, the 2x Olympic gold medalist looks to rebound from a disappointing season with the Cottonmouths.
- C Jake Hauswirth – The former Louisiana IceGators captain was acquired quickly by Trudel after the Gators suspended operations.
- D Joe Sova – The long-time ECHL defenseman could put up numbers like Dave Pszenyczny did last season.
Movin’ On Up
- G Storm Phaneuf – The 20-year-old rookie has the height (6’2″) and the ability to win a hard-fought competition to make the Rivs roster. Prime development material.
- LW Connor Gorman – SUNY-Plattsburgh kids do well in the SPHL, and a strong rookie year could result in an ECHL gig.
Sin Bin Swami Says… Alec Hagaman will pester someone into a multi-game suspension (LOL!) The Rivermen have plenty of rebuilding to do, but plenty of existing talent to still have a successful season. Look for Peoria to contend for another regular-season title, but playoff success is their ultimate goal. A return to the President’s Cup Final is likely.