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Storm fall in third period to red-hot Thunderbolts

Storm fall in third period to red-hot Thunderbolts

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The Quad-City Storm's Ludlow Harris Jr. passes against Evansville's Felix Kronwall during their game at the TaxSlayer Center on Friday in Moline.

The Evansville Thunderbolts entered the holiday break as one of the hottest teams in the Southern Professional Hockey League.

The Quad-City Storm couldn't cool them off coming out of the break.

After an even first two periods, the Thunderbolts scored the final two goals of the game to grab a 3-1 win Friday at the TaxSlayer Center.

It's the eighth win in the last nine games for the Thunderbolts, a run that started with a win over the Storm on Nov. 29.

After an even first two periods, one slipup from the Storm unknotted the score as Evansville jumped on a pass to spring a 3-on-2 rush and Austin Plevy beat Storm goaltender Peter Di Salvo for the game-winning goal at the 7-minute, 21-second mark of the third period.

Plevy assisted on the final goal, hitting Demico Hannoun for his second goal of the game at 11:31. The Storm thought that Junior Harris took a stick to the face prior to the goal, but no penalty was called.

That wasn't the only call the fans at the arena disputed as Shane Bennett was sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct at 14:39 in the third period despite appearing to take another stick to the neck area.

The first period was fast, free-flowing, back-and-forth hockey, though the Thunderbolts tested Di Salvo with a few more quality chances.

Di Salvo was up to the task early, though was helped out a few times by the iron as the Thunderbolts looked to have the goaltender beat only to ring a shot off the post or crossbar. The Storm goaltender finished with 29 saves on the night.

Late in the second period, the iron finally helped Evansville as Hannoun fired a shot from the right side that clanged in to put the Thunderbolts up 1-0 at 14:43.

The Storm answered right back as a pass from Jon Buttitta found Vincent Beaudry in the slot, who fired a shot past Evansville goaltender Braeden Ostepchuk at 15:29 to tie the game. Ostepchuck made 35 saves for the Thunderbolts.

The Storm signed Buttitta from the Mentor Ice Breakers of the Federal Prospects Hockey League prior to the game. Buttitta, 27, is in his rookie season and in 20 games has scored 18 goals and added 20 assists. His goals and 38 points rank second in the FPHL this season.

Buttitta, a Middleburg Heights, Ohio native, also played eight games with the Ice Breakers last season, scoring six goals and adding six assists after finishing up his college career at Kent State University. In five seasons with the Golden Flashes, Buttitta played in 175 games, scoring 121 goals and adding 150 assists for 271 total points.

Buttitta's assist on Beaudry's goal was his first career SPHL point.

Shortly after Beaudry's goal, Quad-City's Ryan Devine dropped the gloves with Evansville's Zane Jones, the first penalties of the night and a fight the newly acquired Storm enforcer easily won, firing up the crowd, though that momentum didn't carry over into the final period.

The two teams meet again tonight at the TaxSlayer Center.

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