Rivermen Set For Run At Calder Cup In 2009-10

Tomorrow's Blues Online with Brian Weidler

 

Peoria Rivermen

The Peoria Rivermen prepare to embark on their fifth American Hockey League season this evening, and the prospects for their journey look to be as bright as the Proud Mary burning on the bow.

After the jump, a quick look at what will "play in Peoria" this season, followed by your comments.

Head coach Davis Payne, and new assistant Drake Berehowsky, have a variety of weapons to choose from up front this season. The Rivermen are strong at center, where top returning scorer Julian Talbot (20-23-43 in 43 GP last year) teams with veteran Yan Stastny and a bulked-up Nicholas Drazenovic to provide the Rivermen with the core of three balanced, productive lines.

A trio of highly-touted rookies from the Blues' strong 2007 draft -- first-rounder (13th overall) Lars Eller, second-rounder (44th overall) Aaron Palushaj, and third-rounder (85th overall) Brett Sonne -- will all find places on the top two lines. Or perhaps, as a unit themselves.

Three of the Blues'  top prospects (from left, Anthony Peluso, Brett Sonne, and Lars Eller) will take their games from the Blues' Pro Orientation Camp to Peoria this winter. ('Game Time' photo by Brian Weidler

Returnee Chris Porter, and Calgary Flames' castoff Adam Cracknell, are expected to round out the top nine forward positions. AHL veterans Cam Paddock, Barry Tallackson, and Mitch Love, along with 2005 draftee Ryan Reaves, who had a strong training camp with the Blues, and rookie Anthony Peluso, should all rotate into duties on the fourth line.

The blueline corps, led by 2008-09 AHL All-Star Jonas Junland and NHL-experienced Brendan Bell, is expected to be among the top units in the American League this season. Junland and Bell provide a solid one-two punch on both offense and defense for the Rivermen, and the rest of the d-corps is equally well-balanced.

208 free agent acquisition Justin Fletcher led all Peoria blueliners in scoring last year (8-24-32 in 68 games), and the veteran also led the entire team in plus-minus, with a solid plus-20 mark.

Solid veteran Adrian Veideman is around to provide a physical presence on defense, as is Tyson Strachan, who was the last cut from the Blues to be assigned to Peoria this year. Danny Richmond, acquired in trade last year from Pittsburgh, is a strong two-way player as well, and Steve Wagner seems poised for a breakout season.

In goal, the Rivermen should be well-fortified behind their solid defense. Ben Bishop will be sent to Peoria from St. Louis once the Blues return from Sweden, and the 6' 7 local product will join Finnish returnee Hannu Toivonen -- he of the Ed Staniowski paint job on his mask -- to give the Rivermen as good and as deep a netminding tandem as any in the league. Former OHLer and Canadian University goalie Danny Battocchio is on hand as insurance until Bishop's return.

The Rivermen open the 2009-10 AHL season tonight against none other than the Grand Rapids Griffins... the farm team of the Detroit Red Wings. Puck drop at Carver Arena is 7:00 PM, and your Game Time Prospect Department will be on hand with live updates. So, until tonight, remember... "if we do not prepare for ourselves the role of the hammer, there will be nothing left but that of the anvil." Auf wiedersehen.

 


PEORIA RIVERMEN 2009-10 ROSTER

## FORWARDS Ps/Sh Ht Wt Birthdate Birthplace 2008-09 Club(s) League GP G A Pts +/- PIM PP SH GW
19 CRACKNELL, Adam RW / R 6-02 211 07-15-85 Prince Albert, SK Quad City AHL 79 10 16 26 -12 36 3 0 1
10 DRAZENOVIC, Nicholas C / L 6-01 182 01-14-87 Prince George, BC Peoria AHL 76 12 21 33 - 1 43 3 2 3
20 ELLER, Lars C / L 6-00 198 05-08-89 Rodovre, Denmark Frölunda HC SEL 48 12 17 29 +13 28 3 0 1
24 LOVE, Mitch LW / L 6-00 200 06-15-84 Quesnel, BC Houston AHL 63 2 4 6 - 6 214 0 0 0
18 PADDOCK, Cam C / R 6-01 185 03-22-83 N. Vancouver, BC Peoria AHL 60 8 7 15 - 3 96 0 0 0
8 PALUSHAJ, Aaron RW / R 6-00 185 09-07-89 Livonia, MI Michigan CCHA 39 13 37 50 +25 26 4 0 2
15 PELUSO, Anthony RW / R 6-04 235 04-18-89 King City, ON Soo / Brampton OHL 63 20 17 37 + 1 125 3 2 2
11 PORTER, Chris LW / L 6-01 201 05-29-84 Thunder Bay, ON Peoria AHL 74 7 16 23 + 1 72 0 1 3
38 REAVES, Ryan RW / R 6-02 220 01-20-87 Winnipeg, MB Peoria AHL 57 8 9 17 + 9 130 0 1 0
29 SONNE, Brett C / L 6-00 187 05-16-89 Maple Ridge, BC Calgary WHL 62 48 52 100 +39 58 16 1 11
21 STASTNY, Yan C / L 5-10 189 09-30-82 Quebec, PQ St. Louis NHL 34 3 4 7 -14 20 0 0 0
12 TALBOT, Julian C / L 5-11 180 03-24-85 Wahnapitae, ON Peoria AHL 65 20 23 43 + 7 43 10 0 3
27 TALLACKSON, Barry RW / R 6-05 210 04-14-83 Grafton, ND Lowell AHL 56 11 10 21 - 7 29 2 1 3
## DEFENSEMEN Ps/Sh Ht Wt Birthdate Birthplace 2008-09 Club(s) League GP G A Pts +/- PIM PP SH GW
7 BELL, Brendan D / L 6-01 205 03-31-83 Ottawa, ON Ottawa NHL 53 6 15 21 - 5 24 5 0 1
36 FLETCHER, Justin D / L 5-11 185 03-30-83 Maryville, IL Peoria AHL 68 8 24 32 +20 50 2 0 3
44 JUNLAND, Jonas D / L 6-02 198 11-15-87 Linköping, Sweden Peoria AHL 70 13 18 31 - 1 52 6 2 1
26 LAMPMAN, Bryce D / L 6-01 200 08-31-82 Rochester, MN Khabarovsk Amur KHL 9 0 0 0 - 3 4 0 0 0
2 RICHMOND, Danny D / L 6-00 194 08-01-84 Chicago, IL W-B/S - Peoria AHL 73 4 18 22 + 3 129 2 0 1
25 STRACHAN, Tyson D / R 6-03 225 10-30-84 Melfort, SK St. Louis NHL 30 0 3 3 + 8 39 0 0 0
5 VEIDEMAN, Adrian D / L 6-02 190 04-13-83 Sicamous, BC Iowa AHL 63 6 21 27 + 2 56 3 0 1
14 WAGNER, Steve D / L 6-02 190 03-06-84 Grand Rapids, MN Peoria AHL 47 6 16 22 -10 38 1 1 0

## GOALTENDERS Ct Ht Wt Birthdate Birthplace 2008-09 Club(s) League GP Mins GA SO GAA W L OL Shts Sv %
1 BATTOCCHIO, Danny L 5-10 175 12-21-85 Sudbury, ON St. Francis Xavier AUS 26 1474 81 1 3.30 15 11 0 760 0.893
35 TOIVONEN, Hannu L 6-02 200 05-18-84 Kalvola, Finland Ilves Tampere SML 52 2913 130 3 2.68 19 23 9 1441 0.910
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