With the Quad City Storm, it continues to be two steps forward, one step back.
After a successful three-game stint last week against the Knoxville Ice Bears, the Storm came out flat Friday night, falling behind early and losing 5-3 to the Peoria Rivermen at the TaxSlayer Center.
The loss, coupled with a Roanoke win over Pensacola, drops the Storm into ninth place in the Southern Professional Hockey League standings, currently out of a playoff spot.
"It's inexcusable, you're at home, a rivalry ... it's pretty simple, the only motivation we have now is we're sitting in ninth place," Storm coach Dave Pszenyczny said. "If the guys want to go home, pack up and swing the sticks a little bit earlier, they'll be there. But most of those guys I'll weed out. I really think we didn't have enough guys that were pissed off that we lost tonight and I'm sick to my stomach about it."
The Storm played disciplined hockey against the physical Rivermen, but couldn't capitalize, going 0-for-5 on the power play.
"They were godawful. It was pathetic and I'm speechless," Pszenyczny said. "It's something we work on a lot in practice and then it looks like we don't work on it."
Drake Hunter scored the first goal of the game, benefiting from being in the right place at the right time. A shot from Robin Hoglund rebounded off Storm goaltender Ryan Mulder and bounced off a crashing Hunter into the net at the 9-minute, 42-second mark of the period.
Hunter scored again, jumping on a loose puck that leaked out from under Junior Harris to beat Mulder at 12:18 in the period.
After Nick Neville fired a shot from the point past Mulder to put Peoria up 3-0 at 1:21 in the second period, Vincent Beaudry put the Storm on the board at 1:55.
The momentum was short-lived as Hagaman scored just 22 seconds later to put Peoria up 4-1 and chase Mulder from the game after making 13 saves.
"The shift after a goal is always important, you want to keep the momentum going for you," Beaudry said. "When you get scored on, you want to get the momentum back so those ones hurt because now you feel like you have to get the momentum back again."
Against Peoria this year, Mulder is 1-2-0 with a 4.99 goals against average. In his games against the rest of the SPHL, Mulder is 3-3-3 with a 3.74 GAA.
"We played like (crap) in front of him. We played like (crap) in front of him," Pszenyczny said. "It's embarrassing. I'm super embarrassed, I know he's embarrassed because it must suck, getting yanked like that."
Peter Di Salvo came in and made 15 saves to keep the Storm in the game.
Connor Fries cut into the lead just before the end of the second period, pouncing on a loose puck and burying his 10th of the season at 19:24 to send the Storm into the second intermission trailing 4-2.
With sustained pressure on the forecheck in the third period, the Storm were rewarded as Beaudry scored his second of the game, redirecting a shot from Joe Sova past Levine at 10:46.
Taylor Pryce had a late chance to tie the game as Alec Hagaman was called for delay of game in the final minute. The Storm elected to take a penalty shot, but Pryce fired wide of the net on his attempt and 19 seconds later, Mitchell McPherson scored an empty net goal to ice the game.
"Quite frankly, I wasn't going to go with the power play after our performance tonight," Pszenyczny said. "Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don't. I felt horrible for Pryce too and if I had that decision again I'd make it again in a heartbeat, 100 percent. But, the hockey gods, you don't play well, bad (stuff) happens."
Prior to the game, the Storm claimed forward Kyle Moore, 22, off waivers. The Indian Trail, North Carolina native has played for three prior teams in the SPHL this season, most recently with Peoria. In 20 games entering Friday, he has scored three goals and added four assists. The Storm also placed defenseman Sean Kacerosky on the 21-day injured reserve.
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