Rivermen Stunned by Thunderbolts in 3-2 Shootout
Peoria, IL - Alec Hagaman and Mitch McPherson scored for the Rivermen, but Evansville goaltender Brian Billett stopped 41 shots, followed by four more in the shootout for a 3-2 Thunderbolts win Thursday night inside Carver Arena.
The Rivermen manage a standings point for their efforts, making them 26-6-4. Evansville wins its fifth straight game and improves to 21-12-5, propelling themselves into a tie for fourth place in the SPHL standings. Billett earned the win in goal with his second consecutive 40-plus save performance against the Rivermen. He is 6-2-2 this season. Eric Levine made 22 saves and is 18-2-4.
Thursday's first quality shot came just 11 seconds into the game from Rivermen defenseman Ben Oskroba in-between the dots. That opportunity would serve as the starting point for what was the most dominant period the Rivermen had played all season. Peoria outshot Evansville, 20-2 in the first frame, and at one point outshot the Bolts' by an 8-0 margin less than four minutes into the game. Jean-Guy Trudel's group were awarded with two power plays in the first as well, but Billett managed to keep the game scoreless after 20 minutes, despite being attacked from all angles.
In the opening minute of the second, Peoria would finally strike. Alec Hagaman weaved a pass from behind the net to Mitch McPherson in the left circle, where the winger snapped a shot into the cage just 28 seconds into the frame. The Thunderbolts would tie the contest at the 7:03 mark of period two with just their fifth shot. A puck found Cooper Jones turning in the right circle to lift one by Levine for the 1-1 score.
Peoria would regain the lead by way of their captain at the 15:08 mark of the second. A tic-tac-toe play between Jordan Carvalho, McPherson, and Hagaman would end with Hagaman slamming a puck in-tight past Billett for his team leading 20th goal of the season. It is the second time in Hagaman's career that the captain has reached the 20 goal plateau in a season. The Rivermen also continued the shooting onslaught, being up 30-8 in the shot category after 40 minutes.
Shifting to period three, Rivermen forward Regan Nagy would be spotted for slashing at the 8:56 mark of the frame, giving Evansville its one and only power play of the contest. For the fourth straight game, the Rivermen surrendered a goal while shorthanded. Zane Jones slid beneath the goal line and tossed the puck right in front of Levine's crease, where rookie forward Matthew Barnaby would collect and stuff the puck home for the 2-2 tie.
With the game needing overtime, both teams managed numerous chances, with a total of 11 shots being put on goal in the three-on-three session. None were better than Hagaman's final minute breakaway. After stealing a puck in the defensive zone, Hagaman burst down the ice uncontested, but was denied on the forehand by the glove of Billett.
The game would progress to a shootout. Zane Jone converted the game winner with his first round shot leaking through Levine while the net minder was down to his stomach attempting the save. In round four of the shootout, Austin Plevy officially put the game away by roofing a shot to the top left of the goal, giving Evansville a 3-2 win.
The Rivermen return to action Friday night as they rematch the Thunderbolts in the second of the three game weekend series. Puck drop for Friday's game is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. CST....The broadcast of the game can be heard, at http://mixlr.com/peoria-rivermen/ starting with the pre-game show at 7:00 p.m. CST.
Group and single game tickets for Peoria's 38th season of professional hockey presented by Midwest Orthopaedic Center are on sale at the Toyota Box Office in the Peoria Civic Center, at the Rivermen office, located at 201 S.W. Jefferson Street, or over the phone at (309) 676-1040.
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Southern Professional Hockey League Stories from February 14, 2020
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- Billett Leads Bolts over Peoria in Shootout, 3-2 - Evansville Thunderbolts
- Rivermen Stunned by Thunderbolts in 3-2 Shootout - Peoria Rivermen
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