Last night in Grand Rapids, the Rivermen started their five-game road trip off right with a 2-1 win over the Griffins. With the addition of those two points, the Rivermen now have 18 for the year with a record of 7-10-2-2, but still sit in the basement of the AHL’s Midwest division.
Some highlights of the game included Adam Cracknell’s unassisted goal in the second period and Mike McKenna’s dangerous, albeit hilarious, tripping penalty on Gustav Nyquist. Also in the second period the Griffins scored a short handed goal, making that the 5th SHG Peoria has allowed this season. But a little over a minute later, with the Rivermen, still on the PP, Jaden Schwartz and TJ Hensick teamed up to regain the lead with what would be the game-winning goal. Mike McKenna made 28 saves and earned his first regulation and second overall win for the Rivermen.
Last week Peoria Journal Star reporter Dave Emininan said that the 2012-13 Rivermen could be in position to make some dubious history. The Peoria Prancers, the first professional hockey team in Peoria 31 years ago, were not very successful on the ice as they only earned 25 wins and 62 points. However, this year’s Rivermen team is on pace to undercut those dismal numbers with just 23 wins and 61 points.
But now for some good news! The first 20 games of the season yielded 77 player games lost due to injury, suspension and illness. Just a few weeks ago the Rivs’ injury list totaled nine players, but today is at just one. Jay Barriball missed most of last season with concussion symptoms and other ailments; this year he’s feeling the effects of a knee injury. Rivermen GM Kevin McDonald said that while Barriball is improving and skating on his own, he’s still at least a month away from being game-ready.