1. Psst... don't look now, Wolves, iceHogs and Griffins, but that noise you hear behind you is the Peoria Rivermen coming up fast. Five wins in the last six games have the Rivs right in the thick of the race of the AHL Midwest Division lead with Christmas just around the corner.
By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
ROLLIN' ON THE RIVER...
After a 2-5-2-1 start in their first ten games, Dave Allison's Peoria Rivermen have hit their stride. A 6-3-0-1 record in their last ten games, and 9-6-0-1 since the ten-game mark, has Allison's charges firing on all cylinders and steaming back into contention for the Midwest Division crown.
The difference between Peoria's first 19 games (the quarter pole of the season) and their last six, is like the difference between night and day. Here are a few key stats from the two periods, to illustrate the point:
|STATISTIC||GAMES 1-19||GAMES 20-26|
|Wins||6/19 (31.6%)||5/7 (71.4%)|
|Points||15/38 (39.5%)||11/14 (78.6%)|
|Goals For||44 (2.32/gm)||17 (2.43/gm)|
|Goals Against||69 (3.63/gm)||16 (2.29/gm)|
|Power Play||6/68 (8.8%)||5/24 (20.8%)|
|Penalty Kill||63/79 (79.7%)||22/25 (88.0%)|
Individual players are finding their games as well. 2010 first-round pick Jaden Schwartz has four goals and seven points in his last seven games, and had scored points in six straight games before being kept off the scoresheet last night vs. Milwaukee. Schwartz is now the team leader in goals with nine, and his 15 total points (9 G, 6 A) in 25 games has him tied for second on the Rivs in scoring with veteran Derek Nesbitt (8 G, 7 A, 22 GP).
Veteran T.J Hensick leads the Rivermen in scoring with an 8-16-24 line in 26 games (3 G, 2 A, plus-1 in his last seven games), and goaltender Jake "the Snake" Allen has improved from a 3.37 GAA, 89.6 save percentage, and 5-7-3 record two weeks ago, to 3.12, 90.2%, and 7-8-4 as of today.
Looking ahead, after the current two-game homestand concludes against Hamilton on Dec. 18, the Rivs once again hit the road for back-to-back nights in Charlotte (Dec. 20 and 21) and Milwaukee (Dec. 27 and 28) before hosting the Abbotsford Heat at Carver Arena on New Years' Eve.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW, PEORIA EDITION:
Peoria 3 at Houston 2, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012. LINK to AHL game sheet.
Peoria 4 at Houston 2, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. LINK to AHL game sheet.
Peoria 3 at Grand Rapids 0, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. LINK to AHL game sheet.
Peoria 3 vs Milwaukee 1, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. LINK to AHL game sheet.
THE WEEK AHEAD, PEORIA EDITION:
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 ... Game Time 7:05 PM CST at Carver Arena, Peoria, IL. NHL Affiliate: Montreal Canadiens.
Thursday, December 20, 2012 ... Game Time 7:00 PM EST at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC. NHL Affiliate: Carolina Hurricanes.
Friday, December 21, 2012 ... Game Time 7:00 PM EST at Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC. NHL Affiliate: Carolina Hurricanes.