Category: SPHL

The Peoria Rivermen opened the 2014 SPHL President’s Cup Playoffs with a 2-0 victory over the Columbus Cottonmouths on Wednesday behind two goals from Garrett Vermeersch at Carver Arena. Between the pipes, GK Kyle Rank stopped all 35 shots he faced en route to his first career playoff shutout. With the win, Peoria took a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-three, first-round series and is now just one victory away from the second round. It was the first playoff win for the Rivermen franchise since April 25, 2009, when the American Hockey League team defeated Houston in Game 6 of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Combined with the regular season, Rank’s shutout was his ninth of the season. Andrew Loewen, on the other hand, made 24 saves and suffered the loss. The Rivermen will continue the best-of-three playoff series with Game 2 against the Columbus Cottonmouths on Friday at 6:30 p.m. CST in Columbus, Georgia.

-Bob



The Bloomington Thunder scored twice on a five-minute major late in the third period and defeated the Peoria Rivermen for the fourth straight game, 4-2 at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum on Tuesday. Paul D’Agostino netted the game-winner, while both Rivermen goals came on special teams. With the loss, Peoria fell to 24-17-6 on the season (54 points) and is now tied with the Mississippi RiverKings for fourth place in the SPHL standings. The magic number to clinch a spot in the President’s Cup playoffs remains “five” – points earned by the Rivermen or missed by ninth-place Fayetteville. In addition, the loss extended Peoria’s losing streak on the road to six straight.Kyle Rank (15-8-2) made 28 saves but suffered the loss for the second straight game. On the other side, B.J. O’Brien (8-13-1) earned the win and stopped 38 chances.

-Bob



Kyle Rank stopped all 32 shots against and blanked the Mississippi RiverKings on Sunday, the Peoria Rivermen goaltender broke the SPHL record for shutouts in a season with six. Previously, the record had been held by Louisiana’s Riley Gill, who collected five shutouts just one year ago. Overall, the 26-year-old leads the league with a 1.64 goals against average and .948 saves rate. He is 14-5-0 on the season and 9-4-0 with the Rivermen since being traded from the Fayetteville FireAntz on Dec. 18 for future considerations. Rank dealt his second shutout of the weekend while Parker Stanfield notched two goals to lead Peoria to a 3-0 victory before 2,791 fans at Carver Arena.

-Bob



Center Garrett Vermeersch scored two goals and added an assist as the Peoria Rivermen rolled to a 6-2 victory over the Bloomington Thunder at Carver Arena on Central Illinois STRONG night before 2,979 fans. Rookie netminder Eric Levine made 22 saves on 24 shots, and earned his fourth straight win, as the Rivermen never trailed in the contest. With the victory, Peoria (8-6-3) is now on a season-long five game win streak and is also 5-0-0 against the Thunder (5-14-0) this season. Peoria outshot Bloomington 21-2 in the first. In support of the local American Red Cross and its tornado relief efforts in central Illinois, the Rivermen wore custom jerseys, which were auctioned off live after the game. The Rivermen continue their three-game series with the Thunder on Saturday night, with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop in Bloomington at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum.

-Bob

The Bloomington Thunder dropped their final meeting of the season with the Mississippi Surge 6-1 on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Coliseum. All four first-period goals were scored on power plays to give the Surge a 3-1 lead at the first intermission. A bad bounce ended up off the back of Thunder goalie Max Strang and into the net on a goal by Luke Greiner on a power play, but Kevin Walrod answered by tipping a Burke Gallimore drive from the high slot on a power play also assisted by Travis Granbois with 14:07 showing on the first period clock. Yet another power play goal gave the Surge a 2-1 advantage with 10:55 left in the opening chapter on a drive by Kyle Kudroch at the right post. The Surge scored on another man advantage when Kudroch batted a rebound into an open net with just 38 seconds remaining before the first intermission. Max Strang took the loss while stopping 14 of the 19 shots he faced before being replaced after the fifth Surge goal by B.J. O’Brien, who saved nine of the 10 shots. Mathieu Dugas took the win with 37 saves. The Surge were 3-for-5 on the power play while the Thunder were 1-of-6.

-Bob


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