By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
ROLLIN' ON THE RIVER
What a difference a week makes....
Seven days ago, the Peoria Rivermen were floundering. They had lost seven games in a row (0-5-1-1), their power play was sputtering along at a miserable 8.5% clip (4 for 47), and players who were being counted on for production, weren't producing.
In the last week, however, the Rivermen have dragged themselves off the sand bar. In front of solid play in the net by Jake Allen (3-0-0, 2.61 GAA, 92.6 save percentage for the week), the Rivs have found their offensive game. Anthony Peluso continues to be a surprise scoring threat, taking a spot on the top line with veteran scoring leaders T.J. Hensick and Derek Nesbitt. Phil McRae has caught fire, with three goals (1 PPG, 1 GWG) and four points in the last week. And Euro newcomers Sebastian Wännström (1 G, 1 A this week) and Sergey Andronov (1 G, 1 A, plus-2, GWG this week) are chipping in as well.
In the last five games, the Rivermen have scored 16 goals (3.20 G/gm); in their first ten, they scored just 17 (1.70 G/gm). The almost-doubling of their offensive output has translated to standings points as well. In the Rivs' first ten games, they were just 2-5-2-1 for seven points. In the last five, peoria is 3-2-0-0 for six points.
The special teams are still nothing to write home about, but there has been a marked improvement over the last seven days. For the week, the Peoria power play tallied twice (McRae and Jaden Schwartz) in ten chances, while the penalty killing units shut down the opposition on all ten kills this week. The Rivs' power play has crept up to 25th in the 30-team AHL (6 PPG, 57 chances, 10.5%), while the penalty kill has moved up to 24th overall (51 kills, 64 chances, 79.7%), less than one percentage point behind defending league champions Hershey in 23rd place (54/67, 80.6%).
REID A BIG, SKILLED NEW BODY UP FRONT
With injuries taking a toll on the Peoria forward corps -- Nesbitt, Stefan della Rovere, Jay Barriball and Andrew Murray are all sidelined with aches and pains -- Rivs' GM Kevin McDonald plucked an unsigned draft pick from under the nose of one of the Blues' chief rivals this week.
Big RW Cam Reid, a 2009 pick of the Nashville Predators, was playing in Cincinnati of the ECHL before being signed to a PTO by the Rivs on Nov. 17. The 6' 3, 205-pound native of Delta, BC was among the Cyclones' scoring leaders (2 G, 6 A, plus-7, 6 PM in 11 games) before being tabbed by the Rivermen.
In 31 games with the Portland Winterhawks last season, Reid tallied 13 goals (5 PPG, 2 GWG) and 32 points to go along with a nice plus-13 mark. Reid started 2011-12 with St. Cloud of the WCHA, posting a 6-9-15 scoring line (minus-2, 31 PM, 2 PPG) in 22 games.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW, PEORIA EDITION:
Peoria 5 at Rockford 4, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. LINK to AHL game sheet.
Peoria 3 vs Chicago 2 (OT), Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. LINK to AHL game sheet.
Peoria 3 at Chicago 2, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. LINK to AHL game sheet.
THE WEEK AHEAD, PEORIA EDITION:
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 ... Game Time 7:05 PM CST at BMO Harris Bank Center, Rockford, IL. NHL Affiliate: Chicago Blackhawks.
Friday, November 23, 2012 ... Game Time 7:05 PM CST at Carver Arena, Peoria, IL. NHL Affiliate: Nashville Predators.
Saturday, November 24, 2012 ... Game Time 7:35 PM CST at Carver Arena, Peoria, IL. NHL Affiliate: Detroit Red Wings.
THE ICEMEN ARE HOT AS WELL...
Despite having lost key forwards Tyler Shattock and Brett Sonne, as well as rookie Cody Beach, to Peoria via callup, the Evansville IceMen are starting to heat things up in their debut ECHL season.
Veteran coach Rich Kromm's charges have, like their big brothers in Peoria, won their last three games, and have climbed out of the league and Eastern Conference basement with a record of 5-9-0-1 for 11 points.
Rookie goaltender Paul Karpowich (7 GP, 2-4-0-1, 3.44, 88.4%) remains the only Blues' prospect currently on the Evansville roster, and Karpowich played a big part in the current win streak for the IceMen by posting his first pro shutout on Saturday, Nov. 17 against in-state rivals Fort Wayne. Karpowich, in his only appearance in the Evansville net this week, turned aside all 23 shots from Komet sticks to earn the goose egg.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW, EVANSVILLE EDITION:
Evansville 4 at Cincinnati 3, Thursday, Nov 15, 2012. LINK to ECHL game sheet.
Evansville 5 at Fort Wayne 0, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. LINK to ECHL game sheet.
THE WEEK AHEAD, EVANSVILLE EDITION:
Sunday, November 18, 2012 ... Game Time 5:00 PM CST at Ford Center, Evansville, IN. NHL Affiliate: Washington Capitals.
Sunday, November 18, 2012 ... Game Time 7:00 PM EST at WesBanco Arena, Wheeling, WV. NHL Affiliates: Montreal / Pittsburgh.
Sunday, November 18, 2012 ... Game Time 7:05 PM EST at Sun National Bank Center, Trenton, NJ. NHL Affiliate: Philadelphia Flyers.
Saturday, November 24, 2012 ... Game Time 7:05 PM EST at Sovereign Center, Reading, PA. NHL Affiliate: Washington Capitals.