Peoria, IL – In the first battle between the Southern Professional Hockey League’s top two teams this season, the Peoria Rivermen and Birmingham Bulls battled to a 1-1 tie through 65 minutes before the Bulls prevailed in a shootout Friday night at Carver Arena. The shootout loss drops Peoria’s record to 30-4-5 on the season.
The game remained scoreless through the first period, and the first real scoring chance for the Rivermen came early in the second as Peoria held the puck in the Birmingham zone for nearly two minutes. Rivermen center Justin Greenberg took a screamer early in the possession that struck Bulls goaltender Mavric Parks directly in the body. The second of Greenberg’s shots in the sequence sailed just wide of the net after a feed from teammate Alec Hagaman.
Peoria got their first power-play chance at the 7:21 mark of the second period after Bulls winger Mike Davis was called for crosschecking. The Rivermen managed to throw several shots on goal, including a slap shot from Hagaman that rang off the post, but nothing found its way past Parks.
Hagaman finally put the Rivermen on the board and broke the scoreless tie with a close-range laser atop the Birmingham crease in the middle stages of the third period. The Peoria captain took a feed from teammate Ben Blasko and powered it past Parks at 7:11 of the frame for the 1-0 edge.
Birmingham tied the game at a goal apiece with just 91 seconds remaining in regulation. Bulls winger Shane Topf collected a rebound of a high-slot drive and popped it past Rivermen netminder Stephen Klein for a 1-1 score at 18:29 of the third period.
After a scoreless five minutes of sudden-death overtime which saw Peoria mustered five shots on goal to Birmingham’s two, the contest headed to a shootout. Bulls winger Jacob Barber put the Bulls ahead 1-0, and Birmingham winger Justin Larson notched the eventual game-winner as the third Birmingham shooter. Rivermen winger Austin Hervey and Birmingham’s Mike Davis were successful as the Bulls earned the shootout victory, with Larson credited for the game-winner.
Klein suffered his second shootout loss of the season between the pipes, stopping 24 of 25 shots in net between regulation and overtime as his record fell to 16-3-2 for the season.
Notes: Blasko’s assist on Hagaman’s goal extended his league-long point streak to 16 games, dating back to January 4 against Huntsville…Peoria has lost back-to-back games for the first time since a pair of defeats at Fayetteville November 30 and December 1, the latter of which came in overtime…The Rivermen remain the only team in all of North American pro hockey without a regulation loss at home this season…The Rivermen return to action tomorrow night when they host the Macon Mayhem at 7:15…The game will be Peoria’s second ever Nickolodeon Paw Patrol night, sponsored by Country Financial…Paw Patrol character SKYE will be in attendance, and the Rivermen will wear specialty jerseys to be auctioned off postgame…The broadcast of the game can be heard, beginning with the pregame show at 6:55, at www.mixlr.com/Peoria-rivermen
Photo Credit: Dennis Sievers/Peoria Rivermen
Article Credit: Peoria Rivermen