MOLINE, Ill. – The Quad City Storm and Evansville Thunderbolts faced off for the last time this year in a weekend series at the TaxSlayer Center. The Storm picked up one point from the pair of contests that saw two very different paces of game play.
The Storm came out hot for the first period in each of the match-ups this weekend, playing aggressive and dominant. Though Quad City had a little trouble getting shots on goal to register to start out on Friday, they turned that around midway through the opening frame and began good possession and showed what they’re capable of. The Moline-based team had 60 good minutes of play this weekend, but there were 120 minutes to be played. Friday’s final period was another good frame for the home team, but it was too little too late.
Quad City is learning the fine line between good penalties to take and bad ones. While there were two power play tallies between the two nights, Saturday’s contest was an interesting bout of whistles.
As mentioned, Saturday’s game saw a lot of whistles against both teams. Five penalties were called throughout the night, but there were whistles aplenty for offsides. There was no flow to the game because of all the whistles, allowing neither side to build up much momentum save for the brief times when play was uninterrupted for three minutes or more.
The Storm had no get up and go in the second period either night.
“Just no heart, no jump,” said Head Coach Dave Pszenyczny following Friday’s contest about the second period woes. “I don’t understand it. We’re at home, they travel all day to get here, and they kind of just went through the motions.”
Part of Saturday’s second period woes consisted of the Storm being always a step behind the Thunderbolts. It appeared they were always where the puck had been, not where it was or where it would be. “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be,” as Wayne Gretzky famously said. It was all Evansville’s game during the sandwich stanza in either contest.
The physicality has been kicked up a notch in recent games, and the line is being thoroughly toed as to what is legal and what will earn a penalty. The officials in recent games have for the most part kept extracurricular activities to a minimum, not allowing more than one fight this weekend (though it appeared there were several willing combatants throughout the series). The physicality is important, though Saturday’s third period appeared to be mostly brute force over skill, as the team careened around the ice trying to use the body to pick the pocket of Evansville.
The Storm will return to action on New Year’s Eve for a special 4:00 PM CST match-up against the Peoria Rivermen at the TaxSlayer Center.
Said Pszenyczny Saturday, “When we play Peoria, we do a pretty good job. and we hate them, but I mean it’s a New Year’s Eve game, so just need to be focused.”
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