PEORIA — Jean-Guy Trudel notched his 209th victory Sunday as head coach of the Peoria Rivermen.
That lifted him into a share of the second-most coaching victories in the history of the 36-year franchise.
For the moment, he's sharing that 209 mark with a really special person in Peoria's hockey history — Pat Kelly.
"I knew that it was going to happen," said Kelly, who led Peoria to its first championship in 1985 and is a charter member of the Rivermen Hall of Fame. "It's something you always believe, someone will come along and get there.
"Jean-Guy Trudel is a special coach, he's built a great reputation, and I'm happy to have him move up on the list."
Kelly is 83 now, and his time in Peoria is so distant, yet he has never forgotten. He still follows the Rivermen in the standings every season. And he remembers watching Trudel as a dynamic rookie winger in the ECHL more than 20 years ago.
"Coaching in Peoria is such a special job, because it's truly one of the great, historic franchises in the minors," Kelly said. "A special place to play and to coach."
Said Trudel, who will receive a call from Kelly when his next win breaks their tie: "Pat Kelly is a legend in Peoria and a legend in the game. It's pretty cool to have my name right there with him.
"He knows, all coaches know, why they have success. This is not about me. I KNOW why we win games. It's the players in the locker room. We have a standard here, a certain type of player we look for, they are great leaders. Our leaders always stand out in that room. We are blessed with guys who want to play here and stay here."
The last man standing between Trudel and the Peoria franchise's top spot all-time is Jason Christie, who holds the record at 233.
It's conceivable that Trudel could get there this season, with a Rivermen team that is 20-3-3 and winning at an .827 clip. They are on pace to go 46-6-6.
TALK NET: Rivermen captain Alec Hagaman, after head coach Jean-Guy Trudel earned his 209th coaching victory Sunday to tie Pat Kelly on the all-time franchise list:
"He won't make a big deal out of it. But it's quite an accomplishment, and the players and Guy, we are partners in winning. We're all very proud of him."
ROSTER RAIDING: The Rivermen lost defenseman Brandon Parrone on Monday when he was called up by ECHL Norfolk.
Peoria has surged into first place in the SPHL despite playing with a roster decimated by a record number of call-ups.
The Rivermen have nine players on ECHL call-ups as they head into the new week. That's half their full SPHL roster.
They have had 14 players this season overall see time in the ECHL.
Currently gone are defensemen Parrone, Jake Flegel, Cody Smith, Chris Rygus, Guillaume Naud, centers Joe Widmar and Will Smith, winger Joe Kalisz and goaltender Storm Phaneuf.
RIVER READINGS: Evansville head coach Ian Moran sent out a letter on the team's Twitter account last week to fans explaining why the team has only four wins this season. In it, he detailed all the call-ups they've had, injuries, and noted that some players are out with the flu and pneumonia. Then they got pummeled 7-1 Saturday by the Rivermen. ... Evansville is on pace to win fewer games than the Huntsville team's record-low 11-win effort in 2014-15. ... The Rivermen do a lot of things really well, and they are a professional outfit to work with, far better than many of their peers in pro hockey. But game operations seem to be a bridge too far for the team this season, and it's frankly getting annoying. The goal celebration horn is so inconsistent in its use, and on Sunday it was reduced to a 3-second toot that was almost laughable — someone up there operating it just has no clue of the concept. Long and loud, rattle our teeth, please, it's hockey not a tennis match. And for the second straight post-game skate with the players Sunday, players and fans skated in silence for the 30-minute event, as no one bothered to play the music that is customary for the occasion. Not. Good. Enough. ... Had a couple fans ask about the SPHL regular-season championship banner for last season. Rivermen co-owner Bart Rogers says it's on order and should take its place on the Carver Arena wall soon. ... The Rivermen traded defenseman Brandon Rumble to Evansville last week. Pensacola, which had been trying to get Rumble from Peoria earlier this season, acquired him from Evansville for big winger Russell Jordan. ... Rivermen center Will Smith played one of two games for Adirondack on the weekend, and had fight against Norfolk.
Dave Eminian covers the Rivermen for the Journal Star, and writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.