The Peoria Rivermen kept up their inconsistent ways this season by winning their third consecutive game on Sunday night. Before this most recent winning streak, the club had lost six of their last seven games. The timing of this streak is not coincidental though. Jaden Schwartz and Ian Cole have not dressed in any of the last three contests due to the NHL lockout lifting. Add Taylor Chorneyto the list and you have your grand total of three Rivermen participating in training camp this year. Missing three players is not bad, especially considering how many players other teams are missing because of recent call-ups.
Regardless of the circumstances, Peoria is now a .500 team again, with a record of 17-17-2-2. The streak started Friday night at Carver Arena, when the Rivermen scored five goals against the Milwaukee Admirals to take the contest 5-2. Saturday night, Peoria came back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Grand Rapids Griffins 3-2 in overtime. Sunday the team beat the Admirals again, 3-2 in a shootout.
Forwards Adam Cracknell and Derek Nesbitt have earned points in each of the last five games. Nesbitt leads the team in goals with 13 (25 points overall). Cracknell is fourth on the club in points with 18 (10G, 8A). Goaltender Mike McKenna has played outstanding lately. The netminder now has a record of 8-5 with a 2.56 GAA and .920 SV%. He is starting to get more starts than Jake Allen, who is still struggling to find his form this season.
Peoria will look for better performances from Phil McRae and Evgeny Grachev, especially now that Schwartz is likely not going to be part of the roster anymore. McRae and Grachev have scored just 11 goals combined, as the Rivermen are now at the midway point of the season. Timely goals will be necessary for Peoria to add to their current streak, and these two players definitely could chip in more offensively.
At the defensive side, Cade Fairchild could contribute more. Fairchild tallied 34 points (8G, 26A) and made the All-Star team in his rookie campaign last year. This season injuries have forced the defensemen to play in just 21 contests. Fairchild has only obtained 2 assists up to this point. He has dressed in four straight games though, and hopefully he can remain healthy.
It should be interesting to see how this team performs moving forward. All attention will be on the St. Louis Blues now, but professional hockey is still being played in Peoria.
NHL.com is currently trying to get the hashtag #hockeyisback trending on Twitter. This may be the case for many people, but it isn’t a fact. The NHL is not the only hockey league in the world, and I believe we must all remember that. Other leagues, ones that don’t lock their players out on a regular basis, shouldn’t be ignored. Just a thought.
If you’re interested in following the Peoria Rivermen, you can listen to broadcasts on CD Country 107.9 FM by following the link here: http://www.cd1079.net/