MOLINE, Ill. – The Quad City Storm and Peoria Rivermen engaged in their first home-and-home series along the I-74 corridor this weekend with Peoria looking to keep their regulation unbeaten streak alive for another two games. Quad City, on the other hand, was seeking their first victory against the Rivermen this season. Physicality was the name of the game, as the in-state rivals battled it out in two barns.
The Storm continued their resurgence in power play conversion, scoring on 50% of their man advantages each night. This was quite the improvement from earlier in the season, as it took seven games and 30 chances before the Storm capitalized on another team’s trip to the sin bin.
“I don’t think our power play was horrible to begin with,” said head coach Dave Pszenyczny Friday night, “it was just we weren’t getting any puck luck. Right now, we’re capitalizing on our chances and we’re getting good looks. before, we were hitting posts or it deflected wide, but now they’re setting it up for us.”
Saturday night, the Storm were short-handed the entire game, as both Ludlow Harris Jr. and Michael Casale were scratched after Friday’s game. Sean Kacerosky was already on the 21-day IR list, giving the Storm only 15 players available for Saturday’s match-up. The way the team played, however, was not down a man. The Storm were high intensity from the opening puck drop, outshooting and outscoring the home team through forty minutes. Checks were hard and finished, sticks were used aplenty for preventing scoring chances, and pressure was high.
The last twelve minutes of Saturday’s match-up left a lot to be desired. The Storm played themselves out during the first two periods, and it showed during the final frame. Peoria took control of the puck and only surrendered it when it was at the back of the net, scoring four goals in the final 11 minutes. One of those goals was an empty net marker, however.
Peoria skated around the defense for each of their third-period goals, putting on a clinic for deking and breaking ankles. It’s difficult to file this under bad, as it’s understandable for the Storm to grow tired after playing as aggressive and high intensity as they did against the Rivermen, but it’s a performance no one except Peoria fans and players like to see.
Friday night, the Storm were unable to seal the deal in overtime, allowing the game-winning goal just 55 seconds into the period of bonus hockey. The defense let Darren McCormick slide right past them on an uncontested breakaway to win the game. That kind of defense doesn’t win games, as was attested to by that play.
The Storm took the Rivermen to overtime the first two out of three meetings this season, which is impressive for a team in sixth place to do. This shows that Quad City is able to play at Peoria’s level. The teams played fairly evenly for both of the games, barring the two instances named above. Outshooting the opponent is good, as the Storm did on Saturday. But, quality is better than quantity, and the quality just didn’t work out for the northern-Illinois based team.
After American Thanksgiving, the Storm will take on the Evansville Thunderbolts at home on Black Friday and Shop Small Saturday. Both puck drops are scheduled for 7:10pm CT that weekend.
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