MOLINE, Ill. – The Quad City Storm and Peoria Rivermen continued their rivalry with another pair of weekend games at the TaxSlayer Center. Though it was Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Saturday, there was plenty of fight on the ice as well.
One thing that was often lacking in prior games by the Storm was completing checks or hits, which is a skill they have now learned to utilize fully against their in-state rivals. The team has toughened up with the addition of Ryan Devine, who isn’t afraid to take penalties when needed or to push the line when it comes to taunting the other team.
The Storm showed good control on Saturday, not allowing the constant whistles that disrupted their momentum to lead to flared tempers and more whistles. It was often the case that when the Storm gained possession of the puck, an offsides or penalty would be called. This of course led to needing another faceoff, which then began the quest for possession once again.
The Storm struggle on special teams, no matter which way the penalty goes. On Saturday, midway through the first period, the Storm went on a two-minute, five-on-three penalty kill as both Dean Yakura and Devine were sent to the penalty box. The Rivermen capitalized on both of the penalties, scoring just 58 seconds in to the man advantage and then again 24 seconds later. While the Storm looked good to start the penalty kill, they couldn’t get the clear, and Peter Di Salvo was overwhelmed with a flurry of shots to allow the first goal while the second came off a deflection.
The power play was no better for the Storm, as they had 11 chances on which to capitalize during the weekend and none were successful. Though there were some glimpses of near-goals during Saturday’s six power play attempts for the Storm, Eric Levine turned away all such chances.
The Storm came out looking lackluster on Friday, the first half of the game being all Peoria. It was only after the music died in the arena that the team began to look good. However, it was too late to dig themselves out of their hole, something which isn’t uncommon for the team. And don’t worry, the music returned during the second intermission.
Head Coach Dave Pszenyczny after Friday’s 5-3 loss:
“It’s no secret that when both teams are playing, there’s a lot of emotions going on both ways. it’s a big rivalry, but I thought that’s the only thing we executed in our game plan that gave us a chance.
“but once again, our power play didn’t come through. It’s frustrating at that point, because I thought we didn’t play well for 30 minutes, then when we wanted to turn it on we looked good. but unfortunately, too little too late, and you dig yourself a hole that’s too hard to come back from.”
The Storm’s lone goal on Saturday came just three seconds after a power play expired, meaning that their pressure was right after finally getting set up. On the other side of the special teams play, the Storm did good blocking a lot of shots during the penalty kill, including Saturday’s five-on-three. Blocked shots don’t equal goals, however.
The Storm will travel to Florida this coming weekend to take on the Pensacola Ice Flyers on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Opening puck drop for Friday’s contest will be at 7:35pm CST. The keys to those games, according to Pszenyczny, are simple.
“It’s going to come down to special teams, (with) both teams struggling in that department — 8th and 10th place in the league on the power play. We’ve just got to go down there and play a simple basic road game. We’ve shown that we can beat the top teams in the league; it’s a good challenge for us.”
Be sure to follow @SinBinStorm on Twitter for the latest news and updates about the Quad City Storm! Don’t forget to also follow The Sin Bin on Twitter and Facebook for all additional SPHL, ECHL, and AHL minor league hockey news and insights!