QUAD CITY STORM
Friday, Quad City at Rivermen, Carver Arena, Peoria, 7:15 p.m.
Saturday, Rivermen at Quad City, TaxSlayer Center, Moline, 7:10 p.m.
Records: Peoria, 29-3-4 (1st). Quad City, 9-21-3 (9th).
Season series: Peoria 9-1-1.
Head coaches: Peoria, Jean-Guy Trudel. Quad City, Dave Pszenyczny.
Goals: Peoria, Austin Vieth 18. QC, Mitch Mueller 11.
Assists: Peoria, Ben Blasko 30. QC, Mueller, Phil Bronner 10.
Points: Peoria, Blasko 45. QC, Mueller 21.
Goaltenders: Peoria, Steve Klein 15-3-1, 1.83, .929; Storm Phaneuf 10-0-1, 1.80, .912. QC, Peter Di Salvo 7-12-1, 3.27, .907; Ryan Mulder 2-3-0, 2.71, .917.
Offense rank: Peoria, 3.69 (1st). QC, 2.24 (8th).
Defense rank: Peoria, 2.03 (1st). QC, 3.33 (8th).
Power play: Peoria, .187 (5th). QC, .192 (4th).
Penalty kill: Peoria, .837 (4th). QC, .838 (3rd).
LISTEN/WATCH: All games streamed live (audio) via Mixlr at http://mixlr.com/peoria-rivermen/ or through team site at www.rivermen.net. Live internet telecast on NeuLion via www.rivermen.net.
PRIDE NIGHT: Friday's game is the Rivermen You Can Play Project as part of the team's hockey is for everyone drive, an outreach to the LGBTQ community. Portions of the proceeds will benefit Central Illinois FRIENDS. That organization provides a community for individuals living with HIV. It provides free confidential health screenings, educational services, transportation, rent and emergency services.
BIG PICTURE: Rivermen rookie center Ben Blasko is having a terrific season, and he was named SPHL Player of the Month for January on Thursday. He notched six goals with 14 assists in 11 games -- during which Peoria went 10-0-1 for the month. Blasko heads into weekend action with a league-high 13-game point streak, and leads the SPHL in scoring (45 points) and assists (30). The Rivermen, fresh off a 12-day, 5-0-1 road trip, now start a 10-game stretch in which they'll play nine times at home. The Rivermen are 13-0-1 at Carver Arena -- the only team remaining in professional hockey without a regulation loss on home ice this season. Peoria owns the SPHL high ground with a 12-point lead in first place, and can clinch an SPHL playoff spot this weekend. The Rivermen made a major trade with this weekend's opponent, Quad City, during the week, sending the rights to center Joe Widmar (on ECHL call-up) plus center Dean Yakura and Stephen Gaul to the Storm for center Austin Hervey.
RIVER READINGS: The Rivermen, banged up, tired, and with some players down with the flu, did not skate for three days this week. ... Rivermen got defenseman Guillaume Naud back from ECHL. ... Peoria's magic number to clinch a playoff spot is five points over Quad City or six points over Pensacola. ... Key Rivermen winger Joe Kalisz remains out with an arm injury. ... Maybe we should call the Quad City Storm the "RiverStorm." Quad City's roster includes former Rivermen players Kristaps Nimanis, Joe McKeown, Al Graves, Dean Yakura, Vincent Beaudry, Stephen Gaul, Ryan Mulder and Peter Di Salvo. ... The Rivermen still have center Will Smith, plus defensemen Cody Smith, Jake Flegel, Chris Rygus and Brandon Parrone on ECHL call-ups. ... Quad City is staging its Hockey Fights Cancer Night when the Rivermen play there Saturday, and the TaxSlayer Center ice is covered with names of loved ones who have fought cancer. There is a picture of the ice surface with this story online at pjstar.com.
— Dave Eminian