PEORIA, Ill. — While two storms were supposed to hit Illinois this weekend, only one did anything that could go in the record books. The forecasted snowstorm was lackluster compared to prediction, while the Quad City Storm will appear in record books as a side-note for their part. The Storm made the hazardous trek to Peoria not once but twice during the winter storm, but failed to get a point on either night against the Rivermen. A few things stood out as I watched the games from the safety of my couch — though not for a lack of trying to get to Peoria.
Rivalry is Hot Even With Cold Weather
As could be expected between two teams that face each other a total of 16 times — 17 if you count the preseason game — there is some bad blood. Fans and players alike seem to hold grudges against the other team, and thankfully only the players engaged in altercations this weekend. By the end of Friday’s game, the two teams had combined for a total of 31 penalties and 146 minutes. Six players were ejected following a line brawl, leaving only four plus the back up on the bench between the previous fighting penalties being served and roughing minors being served that occurred during the line brawl.
— LILWOOLEY (@theLILWOOLEY) January 19, 2019
No suspensions were handed out prior to Saturday’s contest and there were no extracurriculars engaged in during the Saturday night tilt. The rivalry’s physicality ebbed as it always seems to after an especially rough game. Back on December 22, eight players were ejected in the final frame in Moline, and the next time the teams saw each other on New Year’s Eve, there were only 12 penalties the entire game.
Storm Special Teams Slipping
Quad City’s special teams had been ranked number one prior to this weekend but fell to third place in both categories following the weekend series. The Storm were unable to capitalize on a single one of their man advantages, going 0-for-10 in two games. Peoria, on the other hand, went 3-for-10 for the weekend, all three of those power play goals coming Saturday night. On Friday, the Storm had several 5-on-3 advantages but were still unable to convert on a single one.
The Storm have been known this season for their spectacular special teams play and iffy even strength scoring ability, and while the penalty kill unit was spotless on Friday even with the ejections late in the middle frame, the man advantage didn’t work as advertised. Peoria has a way of neutralizing their closest geographical rival no matter the number of skaters on the ice.
Goaltending Still Strong
Quad City relied on Peter Di Salvo between the pipes for both games in Peoria, but pulled him for the last three and a half minutes on Saturday. The goaltender allowed three goals on eight shots in the last period, but that isn’t a reflection of his own skill. Prior to that period, Di Salvo had been bailing his team out throughout both games, as the defense would fail to clear or puck-watch rather than apply pressure.
On the other end of the ice, Peoria’s goaltenders both did exceptional on the weekend, though they weren’t challenged as much as Di Salvo. Storm Phaneuf faced only 19 shots on Saturday, while Stephen Klein became the SPHL record-holder for longest shutout streak, currently at 209:29 and counting after his third straight shutout Friday night.
The Storm were scheduled to play at home against the Evansville Thunderbolts on Tuesday, but the #weatherbattle has been rescheduled for Saturday, March 9. The Storm will go on the road until February 9, when they take on the Peoria Rivermen for Hockey Fights Cancer Night. Puck drop for that game will be at 7:10. Between now and then, the Storm travel to Knoxville, Huntsville, and Peoria.
Be sure to follow @SinBinStorm on Twitter for the latest news and discussions about the Storm.