By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
"QUARTER POLE IN SIGHT, CAP'N..."
Hard to believe that, with next Saturday's game in Chicago vs. the Wolves, the Peoria Rivermen will have played one-quarter of the 2012-13 AHL season.
We will have a complete review of all the numbers up to Game 19 in this space next week, but for now, here's a quick look at a few reasons for Rivermen fans to be optimistic going forward.
1. Phil McRae has four goals and five points in his last six games for Peoria, along with an even plus/minus mark, after starting the year 0-1-1 and minus-11 in his first 11 games.
2. The Rivs are getting offensive contributions from blueline prospects, most notably Ian Cole (2 G, 4 A, even in the last six games) and Mark Cundari (0 G, 7 A, plus-5, 15 PM in the last six games).
3. Anthony Peluso is using his hands for more than just beating the stuffing out of opponents; the big man has tied his career high in goals with five, and set a new career high in points with 10, to go along with a plus-1 and just 18 minutes in penalty time after 18 games.
4. Euro imports Sergei Andronov (14 GP, 4 G, 2 A, plus-3, 8 PM, 1 GWG) and Sebastian Wännström (16 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 4 PM) have been playing well, and taking on larger roles for the Rivermen. Andronov was used on Nov. 24 as one of Dave Allison;s "go-to" offensive players in the closing minute of the loss to Grand Rapids, and Wännström has been seeing time on a line with McRae and rookie Jaden Schwartz (18 GP, 5 G, 3 A, 8 PM, 1 PPG, 1 GWG) that has been esentially Peoria's second line for the last several weeks.
The McRae-Schwartz- Wännström line is a combined minus-28, but that is probably a reflection of their playing against Top Six players from their opponents, players who have in most cases considerably more experience at the NHL and AHL levels than the three Peoria youngsters.
Looking ahead, the Rivs will play 14 games in December, and only four of those will be in the friendly confines of Carver Arena. After playing in Chicago on Saturday, they return home for a matinee with the Texas Stars on Sunday before hitting the road for five games in nine days. Games in Grand Rapids on Dec. 5 and Dec. 14 will bookend a Southwest swing that will find the Rivermen in Austin (Dec. 8), Houston (Dec. 9) and Oklahoma City (Dec. 11). After a brief two-game homestand, it's back on the road for back-to-back nights in Charlotte (Dec. 20 and 21) and Milwaukee (Dec. 27 and 28) before hosting Abbotsford on New Years' Eve.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW, PEORIA EDITION:
Peoria 4 at Rockford 5, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. LINK to AHL game sheet.
Peoria 5 vs Milwaukee 4 (SO), Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. LINK to AHL game sheet.
Peoria 1 vs Grand Rapids 4, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. LINK to AHL game sheet.
THE WEEK AHEAD, PEORIA EDITION:
Saturday, December 1, 2012 ... Game Time 7:00 PM CST at Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL. NHL Affiliate: Vancouver Canucks.
ICEMEN RUNNING HOT AND COLD
After having won three games in a row, including Paul Karpowich's first pro shutout in Fort Wayne last Saturday (Nov. 17), the Evansville IceMen dropped three straight this week before pulling out of the tailspin on Saturday night (Nov. 24) as Karpowich posted another win, a 4-2 triumph on the road at Reading.
Evansville stayed out of the league and Eastern Conference basement, the three losses this week leaving them limping to a record of 6-12-0-1 for 13 points. Wheeling is dead last in the Eastern Conference and the ECHL overall with 11 points (4-8-2-1), and out West, the Las Vegas Wranglers are looking up at everyone else with a 5-7-0-2 record for 12 points.
Rookie goaltender Paul Karpowich (9 GP, 3-5-0-1, 3.33, 89.3%) remains the only Blues' prospect currently on the Evansville roster, and Karpowich seems to be getting the hang of the pro game. Karpowich has started in three of Evansville's last five games, allowing just six goals in 180 minutes for a 2.00 GAA and a 2-1-0-0 record with one shutout. In his last three starts, Karpowich has faced a total of 95 shots (just under 32 shots against per game) and made 89 saves for a nice 93.7% save rate.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW, EVANSVILLE EDITION:
Evansville 2 vs. Reading 7, Sunday, Nov 18, 2012. LINK to ECHL game sheet.
Evansville 0 at Wheeling 4, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. LINK to ECHL game sheet.
Evansville 2 at Trenton 3, Friday, Nov. 23, 2012. LINK to echl game sheet.
Evansville 4 at Reading 2, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. LINK to ECHL game sheet.
THE WEEK AHEAD, EVANSVILLE EDITION:
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 ... Game Time 7:35 PM EST at U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati, OH. NHL Affiliates: Florida / Nashville.
Friday, November 30, 2012 ... Game Time 7:35 PM EST at U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati, OH. NHL Affiliates: Florida / Nashville.
Saturday, December 1, 2012 ... Game Time 7:15 PM CST at Ford Center, Evansville, IN. NHL Affiliate: Vancouver Canucks.