The Peoria Rivermen are struggling early this season. After three games, the Rivermen have only been able to take home one point and have quickly found themselves at the bottom of the Midwest Division.
The bleeding started on the team’s opening night as they dropped a road game to the Abbotsford Heat 4-1.
Peoria’s lone goal came in the final period from left-winger Anthony Peluso off assists from Evgeny Grachev and Adam Cracknell.
Jake Allen started in net for the Rivermen, though he would only play 40 minutes before he was replaced at the start of the third period by Mike McKenna. Allen would let in all four of Abbotsford’s goals, two a piece in the first and second periods, while McKenna would hold the Heat scoreless in the third. Peoria would go 0 for 5 on the power play, while attempting to kill six penalties resulting in 25 minutes of man-advantage play for the Heat. Abbotsford would take advantage of one of those power plays and net a goal.
Peoria’s second game of the season would be the following night against the same opponents. The Rivermen would double their scoring output and tally up two goals, though the Heat turned things up as well and were able to cruise away with a 6-2 win. Sergey Andronov and Peluso would each make the score-sheet for Peoria, while Allen stood tall in net the entire game. Peluso would help Peoria head into the second period with energy as his goal would come at 1:53 of the first. Much like the previous night, Peoria would go 0 for 5 on the power-play, while Abbotsford took advantage of their seven, man-advantage opportunities and put two goals on the scoreboard. Peoria seemed to hold their own for their third game, taking on the Midwest Division’s leader, the Chicago Wolves. Peoria would end up dropping the game, though gaining their lone point, in an overtime loss. Chicago would score in the first period to give themselves an early lead. Zack Kassian’s goal would come off a Chicago power-play. Peoria’s T.J. Hensick would score his first goal of the season in the third period off a Peoria power-play.
Peoria’s special teams looked good for the first time this season as it matched Chicago’s, each going 1 for 5 on the power-play.
Though just three minutes into overtime, Allen would let in the game-winner and Peoria would head home with a winless record.
Allen may be starting to find his comfort zone in net, but if Peoria is looking to mount a comeback to the top of the division they are going to have to put pucks behind opponents. A big factor in that goal is playing solidly on the special teams. Giving up too many man-advantage opportunities to opponents and not capitalizing on man-up time is a poor way to win hockey games, and Peoria learned that right out of the gate this season.
They have the talent to be a force in the AHL this season, though they are going to have to take advantage of the opportunities.
Peoria would play host to their first home game of the season as they take on the Rockford IceHogs Friday night.