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 Peoria Rivermen

Piotrowski & Latinovich Lead Rivermen To Blowout Victory Over Birmingham

March 2, 2024 - SPHL (SPHL)
Peoria Rivermen News Release

PEORIA, IL - JM Piotrowski netted three goals for the Rivermen in the second period and goaltender Nick Latinovich stood tall on Saturday night. Peoria completed the weekend sweep of the Birmingham Bulls with a 5-1 victory in front of 4664 fans at Carver Arena including former Rivermen goaltender and NHL all-star Ben Bishop.

Just like Friday night, the Rivermen came out flying with lots of quality chances but were frustrated by Birmingham goaltender Hayden Stewart on several occasions. Birmingham was able to score off of a stretch play to take a 1-0 lead late in the first period.

It was during the first intermission that Ben Bishop was inducted into the Rivermen Hall of Fame with his family and parents in attendance. Cheers, laughs and smiles abound as the goaltender who thrilled and entertained Rivermen fans for parts of five years before embarking on a Hall of Fame NHL career returned to be honored by his first professional team.

Peoria turned up the heat in the second period just 38 seconds into the period while on the power play. Cale List fired a shot from the right point that was deflected by Piotrowski and it found the back of the net to tie the game up 1-1. That opened the floodgates as the Rivermen continued to push the pace against the Bulls. Andrew Durham skated up on a two-on-one with Alec Hagaman. Durham waited until he stopped at the base of the near right circle before dishing a quick pass to Hagaman in the slot. The Rivermen captain made no mistake as he fired the puck into the back of the net to give Peoria their first lead of the game.

Birmingham looked to respond on the power play. Instead, the leading short-handed goal scorer in the struck. JM Piotrowski started by picking off a pass in the Birmingham zone in the high slot before wiring a hard slapshot into the back of the net, the first true straight shot that Stewart let get past him the whole weekend. Up 3-1, Piotrowski pressed hard again and forced a turnover at the Rivermen line, hooked on a breakaway, he was awarded a penalty shot. Facing the top goaltender in the SPHL, Piotrowski brought his best move as he skated wide right, cut into the slow slot, then put the puck between his legs before lifting it upstairs on Stewart for Peoria's first penalty-shot goal of the season.

The Rivermen added on another goal early in the third period as Joseph Drapluk fired one into the back of the net as he was getting knocked down in the slot to put the Rivermen up 5-1. The Rivermen held on for their 5-1 victory and forced the Bulls to accept their first back-to-back losses since the first weekend of the season with the Rivermen pulled to just two points back of the Bulls and secured home seeps against both the defending President's Cup champions (Roanoke) and the defending President's Cup finalists (Birmingham). Peoria will take the ice again next Friday night as they host the Pensacola Ice Flyers for the first of a two-game set on March 8 and 9.

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