Alec Hagaman continues to be a Storm killer.
The Peoria Rivermen captain scored the game-winning goal with 43.4 seconds left in the third period to lift his team past the Quad City Storm 3-2 Friday night at the TaxSlayer Center.
Hagaman, who had an assist on the game’s first goal, has now scored eight goals and added six assists for 14 points in eight games this season against the Storm.
"Hags is a good player. He's been a good player in this league for countless years now," defenseman Joe Sova said. "He plays a gritty style. I've got respect for him, and a good player is going to find a way to score eventually. You've got to stay tight on him, it's tough."
The Storm did a good job of shutting down Hagaman throughout the game, but he got in front of the net in the final minute to tip a shot from Cody Dion past Storm goaltender Peter Di Salvo, snapping a two-game losing streak in the Quad-Cities for Peoria.
"He just goes to where you're supposed to go," Storm head coach Dave Pszenyczny said. "Nobody wants to go to the dirty areas, and getting guys to buy in, I think that's where we're successful. If you watch our goals on our rushes, it's because we're going to the dirty areas and then it's what you're doing after that. ... For him, he just plays a pretty simple game."
There was visible frustration from the Storm following the game, an opportunity to grab at least a point snatched away in the final minute.
"These are the points that are going to haunt us come late March, April," Sova said. "That one's going to sting. You're 40 seconds away from a point, that could be the difference coming down the line. It's one of those short-term memory things, there's a lot of games left, but this one stings."
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The Rivermen struck first as the league’s top power play unit quickly took advantage of its first opportunity. Jordan Ernst buried a one-timer from Hagaman past Di Salvo at 6:07 in the first period to put Peoria up 1-0.
Di Salvo made 28 saves while Peoria's Eric Levine made 30.
"I thought Petey should have had the save," Pszenyczny said. "I know it's a quick play, but it's not going from east to west, it's coming from up top and he's got to know that guy's a one-timer. ... You need that save."
The Storm’s hottest player answered later in the period. As a Peoria penalty expired, Connor Fries took a pass from Cody Walsh and fired a shot past Levine for his seventh goal in the past four games.
Peoria retook the lead as Zach Nieminen pounced on a flurry of activity in front of the Quad City net for his sixth goal of the game at 7:02 in the second period.
The Storm answered back as a shot from Stephen Gaul ricocheted off Levine and then bounced off the skate of a crashing Joe Sova at 13:22.
Levine argued the puck was kicked in, but after a brief conversation, the officials had the goal stand.
"I was stopping in front of the net, that's what you do," Sova said. "If you stop in front of the net, good things happen when you go to the net. It went off the foot but there was no kicking motion. (Levine) said I got lucky, but I'd rather be lucky than good."
The Storm have to put this one behind them, with a rematch against the Rivermen Saturday at the TaxSlayer Center. Junior Harris played sparingly with an upper body injury, and the Storm are working to get healthy with Dakota Klecha and Sean Kacerosky both still on injured reserve.
"It's one of those things where you've got to put it behind you and focus on tomorrow," Pszenyczny said. "It sucks to drop two points but at the end of the day, we weren't getting any calls, the majority of our team right now is banged up and going through flu so that's why the energy's not there right now."