PEORIA, Ill. — As we approach the holidays, the giving and receiving of gifts are always exciting. When it comes to minor pro hockey, one of the greatest gifts a player an receive during the season is a call-up to a higher level league. Call-ups give players opportunities to showcase their talents at a higher level and potentially earn a better living and the chance for even better opportunities down the road. Players getting the call also leaves the teams with problems as to how they will fill their roster holes while players are away.
In the case of the Peoria Rivermen, there has been a lot of holes to fill due to a lot of Rivermen players getting called-up. Since October 19th, Peoria has had eight non-goaltenders promoted to the ECHL, the most from any team in the SPHL this season.
Despite all the turnover, the team has gotten off to a team-best 16-1-3 start to the year. Let us take a look at each player that has been promoted from the Rivermen to the ECHL and see what their stats look like in each league.
Cody Smith was called-up by the Newfoundland Growlers on October 19th, one day before the Rivermen season opener. He played six games with the Growlers and had zero points in that time. Smith has yet to suit up for the Rivermen this season. Smith was injured while on the call-up with the Growlers. Cody Smith was released by the Newfoundland Growlers on November 23rd. Smith was then acquired by the ECHL Norfolk Admirals on December 19th after his injury and has one goal in three games.
Flegel played in Peoria’s season opener on October 20th, where he did not tally a point. On October 22nd, the defenseman was called-up by the Atlanta Gladiators and hasn’t been back with Peoria since. In 18 games played with Atlanta, he has one goal and two assists for the Gladiators.
After playing five games with the Rivermen and totaling five goals and five assists, the ECHL Atlanta Gladiators called Greenberg up on November 7th. In his six games with Atlanta though, Greenberg did not register a single point. Greenberg was sent back to Peoria on November 20th and has appeared in nine more games with Peoria, scoring one goal and four assists since his return.
Through Widmar’s first six games with Peoria this season, he had only one goal but also had nine assists for the Rivermen. Widmar was called up on to the Fort Wayne Komets on November 23rd, where he played two games and tallied one assist with the Komets. Since returning from Fort Wayne on November 28th, Widmar has had three goals and nine assists in seven games for Peoria. He is now the SPHL leader in assists with 18 on the year.
Kalisz had a great start to this season with the Rivermen, posting six goals, and nine assists in 11 games for Peoria. At the time this was a team best and near the best in the SPHL. The Rivermen forward was an easy pick for the Maine Mariners to make when they needed to fill a spot on their roster. Since being promoted to the ECHL on November 26th, he has two assists in eight games for the Maine Mariners. Kalisz has yet to return to Peoria.
Rumble is your typical solid defenseman with decent play-making skills. Starting the season in Peoria, Rumble was able to notch his first pro goal, as well as add three assists in ten games. Rumble also had another goal, which was to get a call to the ECHL, which he got when Rumble was promoted to the Norfolk Admirals on December 1st. Since joining the Admirals, Rumble has played in ten games, scoring a goal and an assist with the Admirals.
Frank has had an odd season with the Rivermen so far. Frank was signed, placed on waivers, signing a three-game PTO, then signing a full contract with Peoria. Only playing in eight games before his promotion, the defenseman tallied one goal and five assists, including a +4 rating. Frank was promoted to ECHL Norfolk, joining fellow Rivermen defenseman Brandon Rumble, on December 5th. Frank has one assist in nine games with the Norfolk Admirals. Also, like Rumble, Frank remains with the Admirals.
Another great mid-season signing for the Rivermen that has been promoted to the ECHL, forward/defenseman Guillaume Naud. Having some prior ECHL experience last season with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits and the Manchester Monarchs, Naud posted two goals, and two assists with the Rivermen before being promoted on December 11th to the Kalamazoo Wings. Naud played one game and did not register a point. Naud was returned to Peoria on December 15th, where he has three assists in three games since returning to the Rivermen.
Follow Marc Robinson on Twitter at @SinBinRivermen