FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – The Quad City Storm made the almost 1000 miles drive to take on the Fayetteville Marksmen for the first time this season, hoping to stave off playoff elimination for a few more days. Things did not go according to plan, however, as Sunday’s loss officially eliminated the first-year team from postseason play. It was a weekend of highs and lows for the newest SPHL team, as well as a record setter.

The Storm power play unit was good for five man-advantage goals in 16 chances this weekend, the best performance coming in the middle game on Saturday. The penalty kill unit for the Storm killed six of the eleven chances for Fayetteville, even scoring a short-handed goal during the second period Friday to get the team back in the game. The comeback fell just short, however, after a weird sequence in the third period. A goal by Dean Yakura was originally was waved off, but after the penalties on Fayetteville expired the goal was reviewed and awarded to the former Rivermen player. 

Saturday’s game set a new record in Storm history, with five goals were scored by the Storm in the first 20 minutes, including three goals in seven-and-a-half minutes. Fayetteville answered with two more by the end of the period, one that saw the red light get lit eight times. 

“We started out the first period, that was the best first period I think we’ve had in a long time,” said Storm forward Shane Bennett following Saturday’s win, “and yesterday was a bit difficult coming off the 18-hour bus ride, legs were a little, you know, but once we got our legs going I think second and third period we really took it to them.”

The competition level was the difference between Friday and Saturday’s results, said goaltender Ryan Mulder. “I think there were stretches the last (Friday) night where you weren’t too happy with the way they were competing. I know Coach Pszenyczny wasn’t, and I think they competed for 60 minutes tonight and scoring seven goals is a credit to them working hard,” Mulder said.

The win eventually came after a total of 13 goals were scored by the two teams, Quad City taking the two points 7-6. Those would be the only points the Storm would earn in North Carolina, however.

“I mean, the energy was up, everyone was up on the bench before the drop of the puck [Saturday], and we haven’t had that in past games, and I think the boys are just starting to believe in themselves and know and play with confidence that no matter what we can come back from adversity,” said the Storm coach Saturday night.

Sunday afternoon’s contest saw Fayetteville score four unanswered goals before the Storm finally ended Dillon Kelley’s shutout in the waning minutes of the third period. The energy that coach Dave Pszenyczny mentioned after Saturday’s win seemed to have flown in the wind.

The Storm were caught between a rock and a hard place this weekend, all but eliminated from playoff contention already. The only way the Quad City team could have made it to the eighth and final berth was if they went on a nine-game win streak while Pensacola failed to win the rest of the season. While it would have been a fairy-tale way to end their first regular season, it wasn’t meant to be.

The Storm will have their final home game in the Cold War on 74 on Friday, March 22, on John Deere Night. The team will be wearing specialty jerseys which will be auctioned off after the game to benefit the charities of Birdies for Charity. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:10 pm.

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