Peoria Rivermen get their first victory and will be renamed Flying Carp for the game
PEORIA — Peoria Rivermen hockey fans better watch out for the Illinois Flying Carp, because that’s the team they’ll be supporting next March.
The Rivermen got two goals from Tyler Barrow – including the game-winner – for their first victory of the 2022-23 season as defending Southern Professional Hockey League champions on Friday, notching a big goal in the win column with a 5-3 decision over the Evansville Thunderbolts before 2372 at Carver Arena.
Off the ice, the 41-year-old franchise achieved another first, announcing the first rebranding event in its history, a March 10 game at Carver Arena.
“It’s something a lot of teams are trying in our league and other minor league sports,” Rivermen co-owner Bart Rogers said. “Huntsville did rebranding parties, Fayetteville and a few other places.
“We wanted to try it out, have a fun night where we used a new name, special logo and colors that represented something unique to our area.”
After:‘Speechless’: Peoria Rivermen skate Cup, get rings, raise banner in home opener
And the Illinois Flying Carps were born. The logo features a menacing looking carp in light blue colors, above the word “Illinois” and the handwriting “Flying Carp”, with a navy green border.
“I like to fish,” Rivermen defenseman Zach Wilkie said, looking at the logo. “I haven’t been on the Illinois River yet, though. I know how aggressive they are. I wish I had one. And that logo is pretty sick.”
The logo was designed by Tyler Earls outside of Nashville, Tennessee. He rebranded night logos for other teams and took the Rivermen through a two-month process for their own.
“We came up with about 10 different themes, names, for our rebranding and narrowed the list down to three,” Rogers said. “Then we gave those three candidates to Tyler and let him choose which one he wanted to design. Cornshuckers.”
The Rivermen will take on the role of Flying Carp on March 10, then return to their traditional identity. They will be rolling out an array of Illinois Flying Carp merchandise, from pucks to caps and jerseys and more.
Has anyone gone fishing?
Rivermen coach Jean-Guy Trudel peeked at the Flying Carp logo after Friday’s win.
“Hey, the Toledo Walleyes have the best-selling jersey in the ECHL,” Trudel said. “I don’t fish. But it’s a pretty sick logo, and it’ll be a fun night.”
Rivermen captain Alec Hagaman said: “People here know all about flying carp. These things are one of those unique Peoria stories. You put your bait in the water and they get away with it. take to you and you.
“I just hope we hit as hard as they do.”
One for the win column
The Rivermen reached the win column for the first time this season after a strong second period. They got big plays from defender Zach Wilkie and Hank Sorensen, the latter picking up three assists on his debut.
They saw rookie winger Tyler Barrow score twice, continuing to show a serious attacking presence.
“I was happy to get those goals, but I didn’t play as well as I wanted to,” Barrow said. “Offense has always been my strength, but I know I have to improve defensively.”
Goalkeeper Ben Churchfield made his first Rivermen start in net and picked up a win. He removed a shot from his face mask and saw two shots hit the posts, but held the team for a scoreless first period.
It was an odd streak after that, with the Rivermen building 2-0 and 3-1 leads in the second period. They beat Evansville 17-4 in 20 minutes, from the middle of the first period to the middle of the second period.
Then they saw the Thunderbolts tie the game on three straight shots – the only three shots they had in the entire second period and the first 67 seconds of the third period.
Barrow, who scored a second-period goal for a 3-1 lead, put Peoria back on track with the winner 4:56 into the third. He took Joe Drapluk’s pass behind the left side of the net and slid it out of the slot in front of goalie Zane Steeves’ glove and inside the right post.
JM Piotrowski added an empty net goal with 7 seconds left.
“We have a lot of guys coming in their games,” Wilkie said. “Getting that first win takes a bit of the pressure off. We’ve made some progress, it’s a start.”
After:8 things to watch as Peoria Rivermen begin to defend their SPHL championship
Things I liked
• Former Macon captain Joe Drapluk had a goal and two assists for the Rivermen and his presence was felt all over the ice.
• The team reacted and took inspiration from defender Zach Wilkie, who plays with a lot of emotion.
• Rivermen winger Mitch McPherson immediately went after Swedish veteran Fredrik Wink when the latter took Peoria’s best cross Alec Baer from behind.
• Bluecolar center Kasey Kulczycki headed for the net and broke a scoreless tie 2:34 into the second period.
• Long-time Rivermen fan Adam Masso was able to perform his traditional post-match victory dance in the dressing room to a new group of players and staff. Trudel and new athletic trainer Allison Beazley joined the dance circle.
• Still focused, Trudel was already breaking down post-match analysis in his office and said: “A great night and a great win, but I still thought we only played one period and got away with it. We still have guys missing. I think we need a little more from our leadership group.
The Rivermen signed 5-foot-6 and 165 pounds Joe Strada and put it in range. The scrappy little left-winger played 39 SPHL games last season for Vermilion County, Knoxville and Pensacola. …Evansville right-winger Fredrik Wink was handed a boarding penalty in the first period for taking out the Rivermen defender Zach Wilkie. Then, seven minutes later, Wink blasted the Rivermen center Alec Baer – the league MVP last season – from behind in the boards. Wink was hit with a major bodycheck from behind and ejected on a match penalty appeal. Peoria Mitch McPherson beat him in retaliation, and Evansville somehow got out of the streak on a power play. …Rivermen winger Tyler Barrow had a nameplate on his jersey that said: Barrows. After scoring two goals with it, maybe he should continue like this. “…Rivermen Attackers Austin Morgan and Brendan Cares and defender Braydon Barker were healthy scratches. …Former Rivermen winger Mathieu Cloutier scored a second-period goal for Evansville. … The Rivermen are now 41-8-7 against Evansville.
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star’s sports columnist and covers men’s basketball for Bradley, the Rivermen and the Chiefs. He writes the sports column Cleve In The Eve for pjstar.com. He can be reached at 686-3206 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.