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Rivermen Game Notes: SPHL Challenge Round Game 2

April 13, 2018 - Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) - Peoria Rivermen News Release


The Rivermen come into tonight's game after earning a 3-2 win over the Rail Yard Dawgs Wednesday night in Lynchburg, VA to take a 1-0 series lead in their Best-of-3 Challenge Round set.

A win tonight would clinch the series for Peoria and push the Rivermen to their third consecutive President's Cup Semi-Finals.


Tonight's game marks the sixth straight game between the Rivermen and Rail Yard Dawgs after Peoria and Roanoke closed out the regular season with four of their five regular-scheduled meetings. The Rail Yard Dawgs fell 6-1 in Peoria on December 23, which was Roanoke's second game under newly minted head coach Dan Bremner. The teams then did not see each other until the last weekend of March, when the Rivermen captured a pair of games at the Berglund Center in Roanoke, 2-1 last Friday and 5-2 on Saturday, with the former clinching Peoria's third regular season championship in the last four seasons. The Rivermen took a 6-1 win over the Dawgs April 6 at Carver Arena before Roanoke captured a 3-1 victory the following night to conclude the 2017-18 schedule.


Roanoke comes into tonight's postseason rematch after finishing the regular year 26-26-4, good for eighth in the SPHL standings and earning Roanoke its first professional hockey playoff berth since the ECHL's Roanoke Express were ousted from the first round of the 2004 Kelly Cup Playoffs by the Florida Everblades.

The Dawgs were paced in point production by center Steve Mele, who earned All-SPHL Second Team honors this season with 22 goals and 37 assists in 56 games played, while Dawgs winger Maxime Guyon added 19 points in just 16 contests. In net, Brad Barone earned All-SPHL First Team accolades for Roanoke, going 15-15-2 in the regular season with a 2.93 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.


Peoria winger Alec Hagaman comes into play tonight after earning All-SPHL First Team kudos today following a 26-goal, 35-assist season with a league-best +37 rating. Hagaman set career-highs in goals, assists, points, plus/minus, and penalty minutes (151) during the regular year.


Rivermen blueliner Dave Pszenyczny also enters play tonight after being named to the All-SPHL First Team today after he tallied seven goals and a team-best 43 assists, leading all SPHL defensemen in helpers for the regular season. Pszenyczny's 134 PIM were also most among SPHL blueliners, while the veteran's +24 rating was second to Macon's Bradnon Pfeil among all SPHL defensemen.


Wednesday's Game 1 win for the Rivermen included a pair of goals for Peoria winger Mike Gurtler, his first multi-goal game since he netted a pair March 24 against Macon. In his SPHL career, Gurtler has now logged eight goals and 10 assists in 23 playoff games.


Game 1 also saw a game-winning goal scored by Rivermen center Justin Greenberg, giving him his first game-winner since November 10 at Knoxville. This regular-season for the Rivermen, the first-year pro tallied 12 goals and 24 assists in 35 games, adding a +11 rating.


After tonight's game, if the Rail Yard Dawgs win, Peoria and Roanoke will play a decisive Game 3 of their series tomorrow night at the Owens Center.

If the Rivermen are victorious tonight, they will await the rest of the SPHL Challenge Round series to finish, and Peoria will be matched up with the lowest remaining seed, with a schedule to be determined for the Best-of-3 President's Cup Semi-Finals.

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