MOLINE, Ill. – For Quad City hockey fans, this has been quite the year. From the old team calling it quits, to a new team being announced just six and a half weeks after the Mallards closed their doors, it’s been a whirlwind. Before the calendar changes over to 2019, let’s take a look back at what all has happened for the Storm this year.
First of all, perhaps the biggest thing to happen for the Storm this year was its genesis. The SPHL announced on May 23 that the league was expanding to northern Illinois. Lots of questions existed; such as the name of the team, how the team would fare, and how much the Quad City hockey scene would change with the fifth league in a decade. Only four weeks separated the announcement of the team from the press conference announcing the name of the team, but only half that time was spent without knowing who the first bench boss in Storm history would be.
On June 8th, the as-of-then unnamed team announced that Dave Pszenyczny would man the helm of recruiting players and leading on the bench. Pszenyczny was also a first-year coach, which was fitting for a team’s inaugural season. His official introduction was June 21st, when the team’s name, color scheme, and president were announced. The introduction was originally slated to be held at a Harris Pizza location, of which one of the Storm owners, Ryan Mosley, is co-owner of, but the locale was changed the week of the date. The reason soon became apparent when it was released that the name reveal would take place at the same time as Pszenyczny’s introduction. The Storm made history that day, for more than just having a name and a coach. Gwen Tombergs was named the first team president for the Storm; she is not only the first female president in Quad City hockey history, but the first female president in the SPHL.
The Storm, not surprisingly, aren’t doing the hottest this season. No one expected the team to enjoy the successes that the Vegas Golden Knights did in their inaugural season this prior year, but having only 12 points after 19 games wasn’t quite what most people expected.
Many factors have played into the 5-12-2 record, one of which is the schedule. The Storm and their nearest geographical rival the Peoria Rivermen have faced each other a total of eight times so far this season, with half of their season-long series yet to be played.
Another, the Storm have lost six games by only a single goal, two of those losses coming after regulation ended. The first of those extra hockey losses was a comeback victory by the Bulls, who rallied to score five unanswered goals in the last 21 minutes of regulation. The other extra hockey loss was a shootout just earlier this month with the Huntsville Havoc, who last season won the Presidents’ Cup.
Finally, Quad City has a knack for taking penalties, leading the league with 435 PIM. That’s 106 more than the second place team, the Macon Mayhem (does anyone else see irony in the Mayhem not being the most penalized team?) Of course, that total is after the 199 combined penalty minutes earned between Peoria and Quad City on December 22; subtracting Saturday’s minutes, the Storm would only have 328 PIM. If you do the math, the Storm currently average 22.9 PIM per game after the pre-Christmas ruckus, which feels roughly fair given how often the Storm find themselves in the sin bin.
In spite of all that’s wrong, the newest SPHL team has a fantastic special teams unit, which is a good thing for them considering how often they’re short-handed. Those great numbers won’t continue to last for very much longer if they continue to parade to the penalty box.
The Storm have had their issues this season, but it’s still possible for them to get back on track. Entering the new year, they’re tied for eighth in the league with Pensacola. The team will have to make every point count going forwards if they want to do more than just squeak in to the playoffs in their first season.
The Storm will take on the SPHL cellar dweller the Evansville Thunderbolts in a home-and-home series this weekend, the first game being in Moline. Puck drop is set for 7:10 Friday night. New Year’s Eve will see the Storm take on the Peoria Rivermen, with a special start time of 4:00 at the TaxSlayer Center.
Be sure to follow @SinBinStorm on Twitter for news and updates about the team.