MOLINE, Ill. – Thanksgiving weekend did not bring joy to the Quad City Storm this year, as the one-day specials weren’t effective on the ice. Call it a turkey hangover or underestimating their opponent — either way, the Storm failed to pick up a single point of the four available against the Evansville Thunderbolts this weekend.
Quad City was able to battle back from a 4-0 deficit on Saturday night to draw within a single goal of tying the game. Being able to come back from a hole such as that is no easy feat, and it showed heart to not just go through the motions and bide time until the final buzzer.
The goaltending duo of Ryan Mulder and Peter Di Salvo were once again superb in net, but games aren’t won or lost just by the goaltenders. Di Salvo had a 47:53 shutout going on Friday before the Thunderbolts managed to beat him, and he had a .933 SV%.
The physicality did step up in Saturday’s match-up, something that had been absent from Friday’s meeting.
To put it bluntly, the Storm did not show up for Friday’s game. There was no aggression, no physicality, and no drive in their 3-0 loss to Evansville.
“They didn’t even play with a heartbeat tonight. There’s no urgency, there’s no net-front battle, for both sides. It was just a blah game,” said Head Coach Dave Pszenyczny.
The Storm appeared to forget how to play over the Thanksgiving break, as passes were being intercepted constantly. If the pass wasn’t being stolen, Quad City was giving away the puck as they dumped and chased it or attempted a pass to someone that wasn’t there.
According to Storm forward Connor Fries on Friday:
“We didn’t play our systems like coach asked us to and it hurt us in the end. We had a strong first, the second wasn’t too strong here, and we kind of got hemmed in a few times and we weren’t able to find energy in the second.”
The same mistakes from Friday were repeated on Saturday, as once more dumping and chasing (as well as intercepted passes) were the order of the night. Also on tap were trips to the penalty box, as both teams served a total of 18 combined penalties. Each team had seven power plays on the night, each converting twice.
The Storm have been famously disciplined this season, rarely taking a penalty, but that was not the case on Saturday. There were a few questionable calls on the night, such as the no-call on the stick holding against Shane Bennett at just before the seven-minute mark of the second period. Bennett’s stick was under the arm of an Evansville player while both were in front of the referee JR Strager. No call was made about the holding, but Bennett was sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. That began four consecutive unsportsmanlike conduct calls against the Storm in eight minutes, all against a different player.
During those unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and the aftermath of the calls, the Storm did score not only a short-handed tally but a power play marker as well. Both special teams units looked good for the Storm, especially after going so long without a power play goal earlier in the season.
As mentioned before, the Storm did almost complete the comeback on Saturday, coming within one goal. It’s much easier to dig out of a hole if you don’t start out in such a large one, and the Storm had quite the hole to fill back in to attempt earning one or two points.
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