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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Scouting the Peoria Rivermen

It is the first time Steve Pleau has managed a hockey team. The former assistant coach of the Worcester IceCats is backed by another rockie coach, Brent Thompson.

The Rivermen are playing in the Carver Arena, an older facility in downtown Peoria. It is a small arena that probably rocks to the tune of Ted Nugent and Kiss. It needs a major overhaul, as much of its concert series as its seating and glass. Nevertheless, an easy drive for Chicago fans, especially those in the Southwest suburbs.

The Rivermen enter the game 9-4 on the season, second in the Division to the Aeros. The teams pk is the second best in the league at 88.5 percent. That’s good, because the team is drawing a lot of penalties: 431 penalty minutes so far this season, which the AHL ranks as the 6th highest.

Their last “game”, at Iowa’s Wells Fargo Arena, hasn’t yet been decided. This was the game where the ice was declared to dangerous to use, Sunday Novermber 13. That game will be completed in December, however the Rivermen were in the lead when the game was called. Officially, Peoria is on a two game losing streak.

In the pipes are Jason Bacashihua. He played for the Chicago Freeze before moving on to Utah and Worcester. He was a Dallas Stars first round draft pick in 2001. Last season he had a 2.51 GAA, with an 18-13 record. So far this season he has a 2.54 GAA with a 5-2 record. He has two shut outs so far this year, third in the AHL behind former teammate Curtis Sanford. Currently ranked 13th among AHL pipemen for GAA and 20th for saves, he is backed by Reinhard Divis who played for the Austrian team Heraklith VSV Ec till last year.

A young and talented team starts with Peter Sejna who skated for Colorado College through the 2003 season. That last season there he scored 82 points. He came roaring out of the box this year but hasn’t been able to keep the pace of early October, when he scored a hat trick in the first game and two more goals in the second game. He received the CCM/ Vector Player of the Week award for his play that week. Sejna has been called up to St. Louis and sent back down since then. His play that week, remember he scored five goals, has kept him among the top skaters in the AHL, with ten goals overall (ranked 12th) and 17 points.

Mike Glumac, who played college hockey at Miami (Ohio) University, scored 52 points in his last full season with Worcester. Playing a partial season last year, he scored 29 points in 45 games. He has a +/- of 7 this season, ranking him 19th among AHL skaters. Trevor Byrne skated for Dartmouth through 2003, ending as the team captain. Since then he has skated for the ECHL Rivermen and Worcester. Trevor has +/- 9, the eighth best in the AHL. Byrne is current among the top AHL defense men with 11 points. Close behind with nine points is teammate Mike Mottau. Troy Riddle played for the University of Minnesota through the 2004 campaign, including playing on the 2003 NCAA championship team. He best season there was 51 points as a senior. He has spent his career since at Worcester and ECHL Peoria. He has a +/- of 7 this season, which ranks him 18th among AHL players.

Jon DiSalvatore scored 42 points at Providence College in the 2002 campaign and 48 points in the 2003 campaign. After moving to the AHL’s Baron’s, he scored 46 points in the 2004 campaign. At Worcester, last year, he scored 45 points.

Ryan Ramsay played for a number of OHL teams including the Petes, the Whalers and the Rangers. In the 2003 campaign with the Whalers he scored 88 points, the next season, also at the Whalers, 77. He spent most of last season with the Ice Cats, but played two games in the ECHL Rivermen. Trent Whitfield scored 54 points while on the ice with the Portland Pirates.

Mike Stuart, a Chicagoan, played at Colorado College in 2002. Moving to the ECHL Rivermen, he has bounced between the Blues, the Ice Cats and the Rivermen since. Brendan Brooks has recently played for the ECHL Rivermen and the Quad City Mallards. Blake Evans has played for the ECHL Rivermen. Brendan Buckley played with the Quad City Mallards.

Aaron MacKenzie played for the University of Denver. Colin Hemingway played for the University of New Hampshire and the ECHL Rivermen. D.J. Kingplayed with the Kelowna Rockets in 2003-4 and the Lethbridge Hurricanes before and after that. Doug Lynch played with the Red Deer Rebels and the Spokane Chiefs until 2003.

Jeff Woywitka played with the Red Deer Rebels till 2003. Charles Linglet played for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in 2002-3. Colin Hemingway scored 66 points in the 2002 season with the University of New Hampshire. In 2003 his production dropped to a still respectable 47 points. He moved to the ECHL Rivermen in the 2004 campaign, where he had 44 points in 36 games with the Rivermen and two more with the Ice Cats. The 2005 campaign saw yet another drop in production with 25 points in 44 games. Don’t blink, he may disappear on us yet.

Reed Low, an enforcer for the Blues, had 234 Pims in the 2003 campaign. He is backed by another enforcer, the wonderfully picturesque and named Rocky Thompson. Thompson has not been sent up to the NHL yet, but has still managed to take out his frustrations while playing for the Toronto and Edmonton Roadrunners. He had 275 Pims with the 2003 Rampage, 196 with Toronto and 231 with Edmonton in 2005. He is ranked sixth among AHL enforcers.