Last Minute Goal Leads to Rivermen Shootout Win
Opponent: Abbotsford Heat
Date: February 21, 2012 7:00 p.m.
Score(Home/Away): 4-3** W
The Peoria Rivermen only led when it mattered as their first lead of the game came in the shootout on their way to a 4-3 win over the Abbottsford Heat on Tuesday night at Carver Arena. Adam Cracknell tied the score with the net empty and only 47.2 seconds remaining after the Rivermen started the night down 2-0.
Ben Walter scored twice in regulation for Abbotsford while goaltender Danny Taylor was peppered with 39 shots in the loss.
With the win, the Rivermen move their record to 29-22-2-1 for 61 points and take sole possession of the sixth place in the Western Conference. They began the night with both Abbotsford and San Antonio in the standings.
Walter gave Abbotsford a 1-0 lead 4:52 into the first period. He was able to deflect a James Martin wrist shot under the arm of Ben Bishop for his 10th goal of the year.
Two fights occurred within five seconds of the first goal being scored. Chris Bruton and Judd Blackwater dropped the gloves at the 4:54 mark. Three seconds later Anthony Peluso had a lengthy round with Pierre-Luc Letoumeau-Leblond.
At 6:13 of the first period, former Rivermen Akim Aliu gave the Heat a two-goal lead. Aliu fired a wrist shot from inside the left circle between Bishop’s legs. The goal was his sixth of the season and was assisted by Ryan Howse.
The Rivermen cut Abbotsford’s lead in half at the 6:24 mark of the second period. Phil McRae scored his 18th of the season after he snapped a wrist shot over the blocker of Taylor from the right circle. Derek Nesbitt and Mark Cundari each notched assists on the play.
With 5:26 left in the period Brennan Evans tied the score at 2-2. His slap shot from the point, through traffic, to beat Taylor low past his blocker. The goal was his second of the year, both of which have come in the last four games.
Walter’s second of the game at 5:54 of the third period made it a 3-2 contest. Walter swatted the puck off the stick of Ian Cole, who attempted to skate the puck through the front of the net, and between the legs of Bishop.
With 47.2 seconds left the Rivermen, Cracknell’s 14th goal of the season sent the game to overtime. With the puck behind the net, Nesbitt made a pass back to Cracknell at the right post who jammed in the equalizer.
Bishop was forced to make nine saves in overtime that featured a full two-minute power play for Abbotsford.
Nesbitt scored the first goal in the shootout for the Rivermen, but Hugh Jessiman scored on a backhander to tie the shootout at one a piece. Brett Sterling scored what proved to be the winner in the fourth round after Bishop stopped Greg Nemisz to open the fifth.
The Rivermen outshot the Heat 43-34 to win for the ninth time in their last 12 games.
The Rivermen host the San Antonio Rampage on Friday at 7 p.m. Peoria will be wearing ECHL-era throwback jerseys that will be auctioned off following Saturday’s game to benefit the Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Tickets are available by calling 309-676-1040 or by visiting www.rivermen.net.