Rivermen Game Notes: SPHL President's Cup Finals Game 1: #1

April 25, 2018 - Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) - Peoria Rivermen News Release


The Rivermen come into tonight's series-opener making their third straight appearance in the President's Cup Finals, having been bested by Macon two games to none last season after being swept by Pensacola in the 2016 finale. The Rivermen enter this series after earning sweeps of Roanoke in the Challenge Round and Knoxville in the Semi Finals.


Tonight's game will be the ninth meeting this season between the Rivermen and Havoc, and the first since a 4-1 Rivermen win at Carver Arena February 23. The Rivermen swept a pair of games in Peoria December 8 & 9 before capturing a 3-1 win in Huntsville December 30 as part of a three- night, three-city weekend. The Havoc took regulation decisions January 19 & 20 at Huntsville's Von Braun Center before earning a 5- 4 overtime win February 2. The Rivermen rebounded for a 5-3 win the following night in Huntsville. Last April, the Rivermen and Havoc met in the President's Cup Semi Finals, with the Rivermen taking Game 1 5-2 in Peoria before Huntsville captured Game 2 4-3 in regulation in Huntsville. The Rivermen took Game 3 by a 7-3 score to capture the series and advance to the President's Cup Finals against Macon.


The Havoc enter this season's President's Cup Finals after going 30-16-10 in the regular season, good for fourth best in the SPHL. The Havoc dropped the first game in each of their first two playoff series before bouncing back to oust the Mississippi RiverKings and Macon Mayhem in the Challenge Round and Semi Finals, respectively. Havoc center Sy Nutkevitch enters play tonight leading all SPHL scorers with nine points in six games this postseason, while Havoc winger Christian Powers' four goals are tied with Peoria's Mike Gurtler for the league lead.


Last Friday's series-clinching win for the Rivermen in Knoxville saw a goal and an assist for Rivermen winger Ryan Siiro, giving the first-year pro three points in four games this postseason. In the regular season for the Rivermen, Siiro notched 10 goals and 12 assists in 33 games, adding seven power-play points and four game-winning goals.


Rivermen captain Dave Pszenyczny scored the game-winning goal in Friday night's contest in Knoxville, marking the first goal for the veteran blueliner since New Years Eve at Evansville, and his first GWG since December 29 against the Thunderbolts at Carver Arena. Now in his 12th pro season, Pszenyczny was named SPHL Defenseman of the Year this season, leading all blueliners with 43 assists and 50 points, adding a +24 rating, second best among defensemen.


Rivermen winger Mike Gurtler enters tonight's finale leading the Rivermen with four goals and six points in the postseason, including multi-goal outbursts April 13 at Roanoke and last Wednesday against Knoxville. During the regular season, the Rochester, NY native notched a career-best 21 goals to go with 17 assists in 55 games, adding a +8 rating. In his pro career Gurtler has skated in 26 playoff games, all in the SPHL with Peoria and Huntsville, posting 10 goals and 12 assists, including five tallies on the power- play and two game-winners.


After tonight's series opener, the Rivermen and Havoc will shift to the Von Braun Center in Huntsville for Game 2 of the Best-of-3 President's Cup Finals Friday night. If the series is split after two games, the decisive third game will return to the Peoria Civic Center Sunday at 4:15 PM.

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