..........Remember when the Peoria Rivermen were an ECHL club? Welcome Back to the Future...
By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
WEEK IN REVIEW:
DEPLETED RIVERMEN STAYING AFLOAT IN AHL WEST RACE:
The injury situation in St. Louis has gotten so bad that the Rivermen are no longer immune to the Blues' injury bug. Recent callup Philip McRae is sidelined with a lower body injury, and impressive first-year defenseman Nikita Nikitin left in the first period of last night's 5-3 loss to the
Evil Empire Detroit Red Wings
Six players who began the year with Peoria -- McRae, scoring leader T.J. Hensick, steady veterans Adam Cracknell, Chris Porter, and Ryan Reaves, and rookie blueliner Ian Cole -- are all up with the Blues because of injuries in St. Louis.
Back in Peoria, rookie winger Anthony Nigro remains sidelined with an ankle injury, and veteran defenseman Brennan Evans is serving a four-game suspension. GM Kevin McDonald and head coach Jared Bednar have had to resort to a steady stream of ECHL callups in order to ice a full lineup for the Rivermen on most nights, and the "Coasters" have been pulling their oar right along with the rest of the club to keep Peoria's ship afloat in the West.
On Tuesday, Mar. 8, rookie Jake Allen made his tenth consecutive start with battery mate Ben Bishop on recall to St. Louis, while Alaska netminder Gerald Coleman rode the pine behind Allen in each of those starts. Allen went the distance at home against Grand Rapids that night, and surrendered three goals on 35 shots to take a 3-0 loss.
The following night in Chicago, Bishop returned from St. Louis to give Allen a much-needed break. ECHL callup Jim McKenzie scored the first goal of the game for the Rivermen, on an assist from fellow Coaster Blair Riley, and the Rivermen took a 2-all tie into the shootout. Atlanta prospect Akim Aliu, on loan from Gwinnett of the ECHL, was the only Riverman to solve Wolves' goalie Ed Pasquale in the skills competition, however, and Chicago took a 3-2 shootout win.
Friday night, Mar. 11, Bishop and the Rivermen again faced the Wolves, and Aliu responded to a Chicago goal at nine seconds of the first period with his own score 12 seconds later. Winger Derek Nesbitt, who has been a find for the Rivermen out of the ECHL (42 GP, 16-17-33, even, 8 PM, team-leading 10 PPG), assisted on Aliu's goal, and fellow ECHL'ers Chris Langkow and Derek Peltier also added helpers on later goals to send the game to OT tied at four each.
Prospect Mark Cundari and Peltier solved Pasquale in the shootout, recent callup Rob Ricci scored in the sixth round of the shootout, and Bishop stoped AHL legend Darren Haydar to seal a 5-4 OT win for the good guys.
The three-point week enables Peoria to gain just a little ground in the ulta-competitive AHL West Division and Western Conference race. The Rivermen (5-4-0-1 in their last ten) remain 12 games over .500 with a 36-24-2-5, good for 79 points and the fourth seed in the Western Conference if the playoff were to begin today.
The Milwaukee Admirals (81 points) continue to set the pace in the West Division, with Houston (80) and Peoria both just a game out of first place. Texas (78) has gone 2-4-1-3 in their last ten to fall slightly off the pace, but remain within striking distance of the Admirals. Milwaukee, however has games in hand on Houston (4), Peoria (3) and Texas (3).
THE WEEK IN REVIEW:
Peoria 0 vs Grand Rapids 3, Tue, Mar 8, 2011.
Peoria 2 at Chicago 3 (SO), Wed, Mar 9, 2011.
Peoria 5 at Chicago 4 (SO). Fri, Mar 11, 2011.
THE WEEK AHEAD:
Sunday, March 13, 2011 ... Game Time 5:00 PM at Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NHL Affiliate: Nashville Predators.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 ... Game Time 7:05 PM at Carver Arena, Peoria, Illinois. NHL Affiliate: Edmonton Oilers.
Saturday, March 19, 2011 ... Game Time 7:05 PM at Metro Center, Rockford, Illinois. NHL Affiliate: Chicago Blackhawks.
RIVERMEN NEWS LINKS:
03/07/11 -- Eminian: Rivermen caught short at a bad time (Peoria Journal-Star).
03/08/11 -- Rivermen defenseman gets 4-game suspension (Peoria Journal-Star).
03/08/11 -- Rivermen can't zero in on Griffins, fall 3-0 (Peoria Journal-Star).
03/09/11 -- Rivermen's Scatchard called to Blues (Peoria Journal-Star).
03/09/11 -- :01.1: Rivermen earn point, and heartache (Peoria Journal-Star).
03/10/11 -- Rivermen hungry for win at Wolves (Peoria Journal-Star).
03/11/11 -- Rivermen get two players back (Peoria Journal-Star).
03/12/11 -- 1.5: Rivermen beat clock, Wolves, 5-4 in SO (Peoria Journal-Star).
03/12/11 -- Comebacks on ice and in standings (Peoria Journal-Star).