Gannon's Late Goal Shoots Rivermen Over Stars
Opponent: Texas Stars
Date: April 6, 2011 7:05
Score(Home/Away): 3-2 W
The Peoria Rivermen took a big step towards the playoffs with a dramatic 3-2 win over the Texas Stars on Wednesday night at Carver Arena. After trailing 2-1 at the start of the third period, Nathan Oystrick tied the game and Jake Gannon scored the game-winner with only 1:55 left in regulation.
The win pushed Peoria (41-29-3-5, 90 pts) into a third-place tie with the Texas Stars (40-27-4-6, 90 pts) moving into the final weekend of the season. They have a three point lead on the Oklahoma City Barons and a four point lead on the Chicago Wolves – who they play on Friday.
Peoria struck first midway through the first period with Nick Drazenovic’s 21st goal of the season. At 12:31, TJ Hensick found Derek Nesbitt at the top of the left circle whose shot was blocked but rolled to Drazenovic as he cut across the top of the crease. Drazenovic then delayed a backhand shot before he flipped the puck past Texas goaltender Richard Bachman.
Texas evened the game late in the first period with a power-play goal from Phillip Larsen at the 17:59 mark. Following a hooking penalty against Jay Barriball, the Stars’ Aaron Gagnon sent a crisp past from the top of the left circle to the low slot where Larsen was positioned. Larsen then redirected the puck past Rivermen netminder Jake Allen for the equalizer.
The Stars’ took their first lead of the game at 6:13 of the second period. Just as a Rivermen penalty expired, Texas defenseman Jordie Benn ripped a shot on goal from the left point. The shot snuck past several skaters until it was tipped in front of the net by Francis Wathier and slid between Allen’s pads. Wathier was credited for his 19th goal of the season while Benn and Maxime Fortunus notched the assists.
At the 9:54 mark of the third, Oystrick evened the game once again with his 14th of the season. From his back foot, Oystrick wristed a shot through a screen set by Akim Aliu and into the Stars’ net. Aliu and Adam Cracknell picked up the assists.
Gannon’s goal snuck over the shoulder of an unsuspecting Bachman at 18:05. As the puck came to him along the right-wing boards, his wrist shot sailed into the net for just his second goal of the season. Nesbitt earned his second assist of the game on the play.
It was the fifth time this year that the Rivermen have won when trailing after two periods and the first time all season that the Stars dropped a regulation game when holding a lead at the start of the third.
Allen finished with 20 saves and earned his 24th win of the season – the most of any Rivermen goaltender in the AHL era. Bachman stopped 28 of 31.
The Rivermen host the Chicago Wolves with a chance to clinch a playoff spot on Friday at 7:05 p.m. The first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a commemorative canvas celebrating the 2000 Kelly Cup Championship team. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Rivermen office at 309-676-1040 or online through www.rivermen.net.