ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – A trip back to their home province did wonders for the Peoria Rivermen’s contingent of British Columbians.
The Peoria Rivermen scored three times in less than three minutes in the second period—including goals from Brett Sonne of Maple Ridge and Nick Drazenovic of Prince George—and cruised to a 5-1 win over the Abbotsford Heat in American Hockey League action Tuesday.
“We have a lot of guys from B.C., so I think it gave us a little more adrenalin, a little push, but we had a good effort,” said T.J. Hensick, who had a goal and two assists.
Sonne and Graham Mink scored goals 22 second apart on Leland Irving, ending the goaltender’s night early. Sonne redirected a point shot past Irving at 11:42 of the second, then Mink went high glove-side on Irving to the Rivermen a 3-1 lead.
Replacement J.P. Lamoureux didn’t fare much better, surrendering a power-play goal to Drazenovic at 14:32 of the second.
Nikita Nikitin capped the scoring for the Rivermen with a power-play goal at 8:54 of the third period.
“It’s nice to get a win here, we’ve been struggling as of late–this was a big win for our group,” said Peoria head coach Jared Bednar, who was an assistant with Abbotsford last season. “It’s good to be back, lot of mixed feelings coming back to town. I really enjoyed being a part the (Abbotsford) organization.”
Hensick opened the scoring in the first for Peoria (26-13-3) putting a weak shot past a screened Irving.
“Obviously special teams was huge,” Hensick said. “We had a good penalty kill and the power play found a way to get some goals.”
Gaelan Patterson had the lone Abbotsford (19-18-6) goal beating Peoria starter Jake Allen–tying the game at one late in the first.
“We had a lot of guys that let the team down tonight,” said Heat captain Quintin Laing. “Starting with myself, our line (with Lance Bouma and Greg Nemisz) was matched up against their top line–we had two goals scored against us.
“You can pin it on us tonight.”
With the Rivermen leading 4-1 heading into the final 20 things boiled over with the teams combining for 41 penalty minutes in the third–including 15 minutes of penalties handed to Matt Keith of Abbotsford for spearing.
“Yeah I think it was a little frustration from their point, obviously with the score 5-1 and we seemed to be controlling the play after the 10-minute mark of the first,” said Hensick. “It’s just one of those things, we seemed to have the puck a little more in the third and they just got a little frustrated.”
Allen finished the night with 24 saves for his 16th win of the season.
Irving allowed three goals on 20 shots, while Lamoureux made eight saves on 10 shots.