Peoria, IL – The Peoria Rivermen and Knoxville Ice Bears battled to a tie score through regulation before the Ice Bears netted the game-winner in overtime for a 3-2 victory. The loss, Peoria’s first defeat since a shootout loss to Birmingham February 15, drops the Rivermen to 34-4-6 on the season before tomorrow night’s rematch with the Ice Bears.

Knoxville manufactured the first goal of the game on a power-play marker from forward Bryce Nielsen. Ice Bears winger Eric Ylitalo took a point-blank shot from the low right wing, and Rivermen goaltender Storm Phaneuf steered the rebound to the high left wing, where Nielsen’s drive found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead at 11:27 of the first period.


The Rivermen remained scoreless until the 10:39 mark of the second period when center Ben Blasko took the rebound of teammate Mike Gurtler’s backhand shot and put it in past the left post of Knoxville netminder Michael Santaguida for Blasko’s 17th goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1.


Ice Bears winger Stanislav Dzakhov broke the tie late in the second period with his first goal of the night. Dzakhov broke into the Rivermen zone, fought through a body check by Rivermen defenseman Nick Neville, and flipped the puck past Phaneuf for a 2-1 lead at 14:24 of the frame.


After a handful of missed opportunities and close calls for the Rivermen attack, Rivermen winger Beau Walker broke through tied the game at 2-2 at the 7:35 mark of the third frame, skating in from the right circle and deking the puck through Santaguida’s five-hole. The game remained tied for the remainder of overtime despite a 17-5 shots on goal edge for Peoria in the third period, and the game went to overtime.


Dzakhov ended the game in 2:13 into the extra frame with his second goal of the night. Dzakhov  picked up a long rebound of a missed Rivermen shot and raced into the Peoria zone, putting a shot between Phaneuf’s pads for the game-winner.


Phaneuf turned aside 20 of 23 shots faced in net, dropping his record to 12-1-2 on the season. The loss is Phaneuf’s first defeat after regulation since a December 1 overtime loss at Fayetteville.


Notes: Gutler’s assist on Blasko’s goal gives him a point or more in three straight games and seven points in his last five outings…Blasko has also netted seven points in his last five contests…Walker’s goal gives him eight points in his last five outings…The Rivermen will rematch the Ice Bears in Peoria tomorrow night before hosting the Quad City Storm Sunday afternoon…Saturday is Chicago Blackhawks Night presented by The Fieldhouse Bar & Grill…The Rivermen will wear special Blackhawks jerseys and Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull will make a special appearance during the game…Sunday is another Family Fun Kids Day presented by the Peoria Park District and the Peoria Journal Star…The Rivermen will have a pregame fan fest behind section 1 at Carver Arena beginning at 2:05 PM with inflatables provided by Fun On The Run, face painting by Wild Style Design, and balloon art by Unique Twist…Puck drop Saturday is slated for 7:15 and Sunday at 3:05…full coverage can be heard starting with the pregame show 20 minutes prior to game time at http://mixlr.com/peoria-rivermen/


Article Credit: Peoria Rivermen

Photo Credit: Addison Blair/Peoria Rivermen