PEORIA — Steve Klein started his rookie season as a late-arrival after camp closed and served as an unknown option for the Peoria Rivermen.
Well, he's known now.
Klein continued building a remarkable season when he posted a third straight shutout in a 2-0 decision over Quad City on Friday.
That set an SPHL record for longest shutout sequence in league history, at 209 minutes, 29 seconds.
He'll take that with him on this weekend's trip to Pensacola, where Rivermen teams traditionally go to die.
"I've never had a run like this," Klein said, grinning. "I had some nice ones in college, but not three straight shutouts. I had some longer shutout strings, six or seven games — but I was 7 years old."
Klein should be the favorite for SPHL Player of the Week honors.
He leads the league with five shutouts in a pro career just 16 appearances old.
He is 13-3-0 and leads the SPHL with a 1.87 goals-against and .926 saves rate.
That goals-against is the lowest by a full-time goaltender in Rivermen franchise history. It's better than another great Peoria goaltender, Kyle Rank, who put up a 1.89 in the 2013-14 season and was a two-time Goaltender of the Year.
Klein's shutout streak surpassed the league mark of 191:07 set by Columbus goaltender Andrew Loewen in 2013-14.
With five shutouts, he could challenge Rank's league shutout record of eight set in 2013-14.
Who is Steve Klein? He's a kid for which Goaltender of the Year, Rookie of the Year, All-Rookie Team are all legitimate possibilities on the table.
EVANSVILLE COACH BUSTED: As if things weren't bad enough for the historically awful, 4-24-2 Evansville Thunderbolts — they lost their head coach last week.
Bolts coach Ian Moran faced drunken driving charges after his early Saturday morning arrest in Vanderburgh County, near Evansville, according to the Evansville Courier & Press.
Moran, who played 12 seasons in the NHL, was stopped in his gray Ford sport utility vehicle after an officer noted it was allegedly traveling at a "high rate of speed" around 2:30 a.m. Police said Moran's SUV veered close to a concrete median before correcting, then moved to the center lane without signalling. Moran told police he was using his phone.
The officer said the car smelled of alcohol and asked Moran if he had been drinking. He admitted he had, but said it was "not much." When the officer asked how much was "not much," Moran did not answer.
Police say Moran volunteered for field sobriety tests at the scene, but was unable to follow the instructions, according to the affidavit. The officer stopped the third test after 30 seconds over concerns for Moran's safety.
Moran then refused chemical breath tests both at the scene and later at the jail. He was booked on a Class C misdemeanor charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, and later released.
It is believed that Evansville veteran player Bo Driscoll, who retired last week and was serving as an assistant coach, guided the team in its game Saturday.
The Thunderbolts have not commented on the situation.
RIVER READINGS: June Kelly, the wife of former Rivermen coach and GM Pat Kelly, has been honored by the ECHL, which announced its playoff MVP trophy will now carry her name. June Kelly actually helped the Rivermen win their first championship, in 1984-85 in the IHL, when she chatted with a patron in a tavern up in Canada. She learned he was a hockey player, and sent him Peoria's way. The Rivermen signed him — and that turned out to be defenseman Lee Norwood, who led Peoria to a championship and went on to play for the Blues in a 500-game NHL career. ... ECHL Norfolk, which has Rivermen defensemen Cody Smith and Brandon Parrone on call-up, released defenseman Brandon Rumble, who is likely on his way to Pensacola to face the Rivermen this weekend. ... Pensacola signed veteran defenseman Jason Price and could get veteran defenseman Drew Baker, too, as he was released by ECHL South Carolina. Pensacola may be 9-18-2 and out of a playoff spot, but they maneuver like playing Peoria is the Super Bowl. ... The Rivermen, meanwhile, still have so many guys on call-ups that they are carrying three goaltenders on the active roster. ... Rivermen winger Austin Vieth is tied for the league lead with 16 goals. Teammate Ben Blasko is second in assists with 22. ... The Rivermen are 18-1-1 combined against Evansville and Quad City. ... Quad City defenseman Ondrej Misovic, who was bloodied during the brawl with the Rivermen in Friday's game and did not play Saturday, was placed on 21-day IR Monday. ... The Rivermen coach's show rolls live on Tuesday at Fieldhouse Bar & Grill in Campustown. Rivermen coach Jean-Guy Trudel, goaltender Steve Klein, and winger Pijus Rulevicius and Mike Gurtler are scheduled guests.
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.