Gaul's Hat Trick Lifts Rivermen to Fifth Straight Saturday
Evansville, IN - The Peoria Rivermen got three goals from rookie winger Stephen Gaul in the first 23:04 of regulation, two more from center Justin Greenberg, and coasted to a 6-1 win over the Evansville Thunderbolts at the Ford Center Saturday night. The win, Peoria's fifth in a row, improves the Rivermen to 22-3-3 on the season before next weekend's home pair against the Quad City Storm.
Peoria jumped out to a 3-0 lead in a 2:32 stretch late in the first period, kicked off when Gaul finished a feed from teammate Pijus Rulevicius past Thunderbolts goaltender Braeden Ostepchuk at the 15:00 mark of the opening frame. Greenberg doubled the Rivermen lead a minute later when he took a cross-ice pass from Rivermen captain Alec Hagaman and fired it past Ostepchuk for a 2-0 edge at 16:00 of the period. Gaul raced into the Thunderbolts zone, picked up a loose puck above the left circle, and fired it past Ostepchuk for 3-0 at 17:32 of the frame.
Gaul completed the hat trick at 3:04 of the second period with a snap shot from the Thunderbolts slot, pushing the Rivermen lead to 4-0.
Evansville clambered into the scoring at 5:50 of the middle frame when veteran defenseman Bo Driscoll's wrister from the left point was deflected by teammate CJ Blaszka, past Rivermen goaltender Ryan Mulder for a 4-1 score.
Peoria put the game out of reach with single goals late in each of the final two periods, when Greenberg deflected Hagaman's high-slot drive past Ostepchuk at 17:46 of the second and Rivermen forward Beau Walker tipped an Aaron Atwell point shot on the power-play for the 6-1 final at 17:53 of the final stanza.
Mulder earned his second win of the season in net for the Rivermen, steering aside 26 of 27 shots faced to improve his overall SPHL record to 2-1-0 this season. The win Marks Mulder's second straight win over the Thunderbolts after he was in net for last Saturday's 7-1 Rivermen victory in Peoria.
Notes: Gaul netted his first SPHL hat trick and tallied his first, second, and third goals in his fifth game with the Rivermen...Walker's goal was his first at the SPHL level after he began his pro career with the Thunderbolts earlier this season...Greenberg recorded two goals and an assist for his fifth three-point outing of the season, and his first multi-goal performance since Peoria's home opener November 2 against Quad City...Hagaman recorded three assists to extend his personal point streak to nine games...Atwell recorded two assists, giving him his first SPHL multi-point outing since February 8, 2013 against the Columbus Cottonmouths...The Rivermen return to action next Friday and Saturday night when they host the Quad City Storm...Friday is Peoria's Chicago Blackhawks Night, with Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk on hand...Friday is also Country Music Night, with a postgame concert performed by the Joe Stamm Band...Saturday is Peoria's annual Hall of Fame ceremony, with former Rivermen winger Butch Kaebel and late broadcaster Norm Ulrich inducted into the Rivermen Hall of Fame...The Rivermen will wear special Hall of Fame jerseys and auction the game-worn sweaters off postgame...Saturday is also Faith & Family Night, with a special concert performance from Christian group I Am They...Both games are set to begin at 7:15, and the broadcast of each can be heard, starting with the pregame show at 6:55 at http://mixlr.com/peoria-rivermen/
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