Rivermen Battle Back in Third, Bulls Run off with Shootout Friday
Pelham, AL - The Peoria Rivermen piled 45 shots on goal through regulation and overtime, battled to a 3-3 tie after 65 minutes, and fell 4-3 in a shootout to the Birmingham Bulls at Pelham Civic Complex Ice Arena Friday. The loss, Peoria's third straight, drops the Rivermen to 35-7-7 on the season before tomorrow night's rematch with the Bulls in Alabama.
The Bulls opened the scoring when a pair of former Rivermen teamed up near the midpoint of the first period. Birmingham center Josh Harris carried the puck into the slot of the Peoria zone on a 2-on-1 break, sent a pass to teammate Jacob Barber on the left wing, and Harris snapped Barber's return pass through Rivermen netminder Storm Phaneuf for a 1-0 lead at 8:47 of the opening frame.
The Bulls doubled their lead on a faceoff play near the midway point of the second period. With a draw in the left wing of the Rivermen zone, Bulls center Cole Golka chipped the puck netward, and it bounded its way past Phaneuf's left pad for a 2-0 lead at 8:05 of the second period.
The Rivermen cut the Birmingham lead in half just past the midway point of the middle period. Rivermen winger Joe Kalisz, playing in his first game since returning from Inured Reserve, carried into the right wing of the Birmingham zone, and Bulls goaltender Mavric Parks turned aside his blast from the circle, but Peoria winger Austin Vieth pounced on the rebound for his team-leading 21st goal of the season, cutting the Birmingham lead to 2-1 at 11:22 of the middle frame.
The Bulls pushed their lead back to a pair early in the third period. After a lengthy series of play in the Peoria zone, Birmingham winger Josh LaFrance one-timed a feed from behind the net to the left-wing past Phaneuf for the 3-1 lead at 3:11 of the final frame.
The Rivermen pulled back within one on the power-play just past the midpoint of the third period. With Bulls winger Russell Jordan boxed for interference, Rivermen center Justin Greenberg took a feed from teammate Nick Neville and rifled a one-timer from the left-wing circle through Parks for a 3-2 score at 11:40 of the period.
Peoria clawed back to tie the game with another power-play marker late in the final period of regulation. With Jordan again in the box for interference, Greenberg faked a shot, then sent a pass to the slot, where Rivermen winger Ben Blasko ripped a shot past Parks for a 3-3 score at 16:54 of the third period.
The game remained tied through the remainder of regulation and all of overtime, including a two-minute Peoria penalty kill in the final 58 seconds of the third period and the first 1:02 of OT, and the contest descended to a shootout. Birmingham's Josh Harris and Peoria's Austin Hervey led of with successful attempts for their respective teams. The second, third, and fourth shooters for each team were turned aside, and Birmingham forward Austin Daae snapped a shot past Phaneuf for a 2-1 shootout lead. Parks turned Peoria's fifth shooter, Rivermen captain Alec Hagaman, aside, for the 4-3 overall victory.
Phaneuf stopped 25 of 28 shots in net through regulation and overtime, and dropped his first non-regulation loss since a March 1 overtime loss at home against Knoxville. The loss drops Phaneuf's record this season to 13-1-2 on the season.
Notes: ...The Rivermen return to action tomorrow night when wrap up the season series with the Bulls at the Pelham Civic Complex...Saturday's game is set to start at 7:00 PM Central Time...The broadcast of the game can be heard, starting with the pregame show at 6:40, at http://mixlr.com/peoria-rivermen/
Group, single game, and season tickets for Peoria's 37th season of professional hockey presented by Midwest Orthopaedic Center are on sale at the Toyota Box Office in the Peoria Civic Center, or by phone at the Rivermen office, located at 201 S.W. Jefferson Street, or over the phone at (309) 676-1040.
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