MOLINE, Ill. – The Quad City Storm threw quite the party this weekend, as it was KISS-mas in Moline. KISS was set to play at the TaxSlayer Center on Sunday, and a rescheduled game was the perfect excuse to raise more money for charity. The USO of Illinois was the charity of choice on Sunday, and it was a tale of two teams for the Storm.
Quad City’s opponent this past weekend was the Evansville Thunderbolts, who skated with only 14 players on both Friday and Saturday. One might think that being shorthanded would put the visitors at a disadvantage, but that wasn’t the case on Friday. The two teams played roughly even for some parts of the game, though Quad City led 3-1 roughly eight minutes in to the second period. The Storm was fully capable of being the victorious team at the end of the night, but it came down to who wanted the points more. With less than ten games remaining in the season, and ten points separating ninth and tenth place, Evansville wanted the two points Friday just as much as the playoff hopeful Storm.
Quad City played soft on Friday.
“Nobody was finishing any checks. I mean, it’s obvious they had 14 skaters, and we just decided to take it easy on them. In hockey, if you let a team hang around you, you’ll end up losing the game,” said coach Dave Pszenyczny following Friday’s defeat.
Both teams had only a single man advantage in 60 minutes, which was a huge factor in the outcome, according to Pszenyczny.
The lack of physicality was perhaps the most glaring error for the Storm on Friday. The second most glaring error was the breakdown that led to a 3-1 lead being turned in to a 5-4 overtime loss. Bad coverage in the defensive zone led to goals, and it was not a performance that boded well for the next night.
Specialty jerseys are always a hit, and the Storm’s latest special jerseys gained national notoriety after being picked up by the NHL, Yahoo! Sports, and ESPN. Perhaps the biggest part of KISS Night was not the jerseys the players wore, but the jerseys that are currently being auctioned on DASH until March 18 — personalized KISS jerseys, each signed by the respective member of the band.
It was like a switch had flipped for the Storm when they came out for the opening faceoff on Saturday. From start to nearly finish, the Storm dominated play. Checks were being finished, passing was crisp, the defensive zone coverage shored up.
“Hard work obviously pays off for our team. That’s our M.O. all year, that if we work hard we get the good results,” said Pszenyczny.
Peter Di Salvo’s shutout bid ended at 11:13 of the third, when the “Mony Mony” curse struck. This season, a pattern has emerged that when that song is played, the shutout ends. The song seemed only to fire up Evansville, as they found their second wind and began peppering Di Salvo with shots.
After the game, the off-ice antics began with the jersey auction. All proceeds from the KISS jersey auction will go to the USO of Illinois, which supports veterans and their families. With just over a week left in the online KISS-autographed jersey auction, $37,250 has already been raised from the player auction. One jersey, a blank number 19, included two tickets for the KISS concert Sunday, and sold for $2,200. That wasn’t the most expensive bid, however, as Dalton Mills‘ sweater took the cake at $2,400.
The Storm will head to Fayetteville March 15, 16, and 17 for games that may very well decide whether the team will appear in the playoffs in their inaugural season. Fayetteville currently sits at the number six spot in the standings, 17 points above Quad City. These three games will be the first and only meeting between the teams this year.
“You know, I gotta do my work obviously and study, see what they’re doing, their tendencies. We haven’t seen the team all year, so that’s a little frustrating with the scheduling. But no, we gotta go down there and just make the most of it. I noticed today that we have not swept a weekend at all this season, so that’s something to strive for going in to next weekend.”
The Storm will return to home ice on March 22, when the team will have another specialty jersey — this time for Birdies for Charity. It will be John Deere Night, and what a jersey they have planned. John Deere green, yellow, and a golf ball design in the white slash. All money from that jersey auction will go to the Birdies for Charities, which raises money during the John Deere Classic each August.
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