By Brian Weidler, Game Time Prospect Department
Four unanswered Quad City Flames' goals in the first and second periods, including a pair by ECHL veteran defenseman Gerry Burke, spelled doom for the Peoria Rivermen in last night's AHL pre-season opener for both teams.
A midweek crowd of 2204 saw the Rivermen open the scoring with a breakaway shorthanded goal by Francois-Pierre Guenette at 11:13 of the first period, off of an assist by former Ottawa and Jarmo Kekalainen draft pick Arttu Luttinen, but Quad City answered 37 seconds later with Burke's first goal of the night and the Flames were hot after that.
Prospects Arttu Luttinen, Nikolai Lemtyugov, Tomas Kana and Michal Birner warm up before Wednesday night's game (Photo by Brian Weidler)
Veteran Chris Beckford-Tseu got the start for Peoria, and wasn't particularly sharp in allowing three goals on 11 shots in 29:55 of playing time. St. Louis native Mike McKenna took over for "The Hyphenator" midway through the second period, and had to face a Quad City power play thanks to a hooking call on rookie defenseman Alexander HellstrÃ¶m. McKenna's troubles would mount 80 seconds later when fellow St. Louisan Neil Komadoski took a roughing call, and left the Rivermen killing off 40 seconds of a five-on-three. The balance of HellstrÃ¶m's penalty was killed off without incident, but 14 seconds after it ended, Flames' power-forward-in-training Chris Chucko potted a power-play goal, the only tally against McKenna all night.
At the other end, rookie and 2007 Western League playoff MVP Matt Keetley was at the top of his game, stopping 22 of Peoria's 24 shots, and showing why he managed 42 wins in the regular season, and 16 more in leading Medicine Hat to the WHL championship last season.
The hustle of forward Josh Soares allowed the Rivermen to battle back to a two-goal defecit at 3:07 of the third period, but that was as close as they could get. Luttinen also assisted on Soares' goal, as did defenseman Bryan Miller.
The Rivermen play again this weekend, a home-and-home series against the Rockford IceHogs, with Friday night's matchup in Peoria before traveling up to The Forest City to face off against the Hogs on Saturday.
RIVER SOUNDINGS: As the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights in 2006-07, the Flames were 2-6-2-0 vs. the Rivermen in the regular season ... Assistant coaches Brent Thompson and Davis Payne were behind Peoria's bench Wednesday night, as head coach Dave Baseggio was busy evaluating the players on the ice ... Peoria GM and Blues' Director of Pro Scouting Kevin McDonald was also present ... Recent assignees Jason Bacashihua and Jeff Woywitka were on hand Wednesday night in civilian clothes, neither having been chosen on waivers after being sent down by the Blues ... The line of Guenette centering Soares and Luttinen was Peoria's best line on Wednesday night, but the troika of veteran Jean-Guy Trudel, prospect Michal Birner, and rookie Nikolai Lemtyugov had a number of solid chances as well ... Lemtyugov and Soares should both be very popular players in Peoria this winter, as both are willing to hit and go to the net, both have excellent shots that they aren't afraid to use, and both are fast as well as being excellent stickhandlers ... After the game, Baseggio gave Lemtyugov and his "world class skills" high marks, noting that this had been his first chance to really see what Lemtyugov could do ... Baseggio also called HellstrÃ¶m a "battler," and was satisfied with his play as well ... The goaltending situation in Peoria is crowded right now, with no less than five goaltenders (Beckford-Tseu, McKenna, Bacashihua, second-year man Marek Schwarz, and Finnish veteran Juuso Riksman) all assigned to the Rivermen as of now ... Baseggio has not yet made a decision on who will be playing this weekend in goal, but noted that "with five goalies in camp and two nets in practice, and only one in the game, the numbers just don't add up."
For Peoria's pre-season stats (including faceoff data) from Wednesday night's game, click on this link to the "Tomorrow's Blues" site.
QUAD CITY 4, PEORIA 2
PEO: 1-0-1 2
QCY: 1-3-0 4
First Period: PEO Guenette (Luttinen) SH 11:13; QCY Burke (Ramholt, Donati) PP 11:50. Penalties: QCY Couture (fighting) 9:41; PEO Neilson (fighting) 9:41; PEO Spencer (hooking) 10:02; PEO Lemtyugov (holding) 12:56.
Second Period: QCY Burke (unassisted) 7:56; QCY Chucko (Ryder, Nystrom) 8:37; QCY Van der Gulik (Donati, Cracknell) PP 12:09. Penalties: QCY Donally (fighting) 6:28; PEO Spencer (fighting) 6:28; QCY Strachan (fighting) 8:10; PEO Benson (fighting) 8:10; PEO HellstrÃ¶m (hooking) 9:55; PEO Komadoski (roughing) 11:15; QCY Schulz (hooking) 19:20.
Third Peorid: PEO Soares (Luttinen, Miller) PP 3:07. Penalties: QCY Donally (hooking) 1:38; PEO Cheesman (hooking) 4:07; QCY Nystrom (roughing) 6:51; QCY Burke (roughing) 9:48; PEO Luttinen (hooking) 12:24.
Shots on goal: Peoria 8-4-12, total 24; Quad City 4-10-5, total 19.
Goaltenders: Quad City, Keetley (W, 1-0-0) 60:00, 24 SA, 22 saves; Peoria Beckford-Tseu (L, 0-1-0)29:55, 11 SA, 8 saves, McKenna (N/D) 28:35, 8 SA, 7 saves.
Referee: Steve Kozari. Linesmen: Mike Oliver, Scott Bokai. Att: 2,204.
"If we do not prepare for ourselves the role of the hammer, there will be nothing left but that of the anvil."
-- Otto von Bismarck, 1851