Peoria scored two straight goals in the third period, thwarting a potential comeback and beating the Columbus Cottonmouths 6-3 on Friday night at the Columbus Civic Center.
The win was the Rivermen's 12th straight win.
Losers of three straight at home and five of their last six overall, the Snakes' home record dropped to 5-8-2.
This was the first meeting of the two teams since Dec. 19. In that game, Columbus forward Craig Simchuk skated into Peoria goalie Kyle Rank, causing him to hit a goalpost. Three suspensions were handed out to Simchuk, Garrett Lockridge and coach Jerome Bechard.
Following 15 minutes of scoreless action, Peoria struck first on an unassisted power-play goal by Ben Oskroba to give the Rivermen a 1-0 lead.
Back on the ice after missing the last two weeks, at 7:02 of the second period, Cottonmouths defenseman and team captain Kyle Johnson scored the equalizer.
Peoria wasted no time taking back the lead thanks to a breakaway short-handed goal by Steve Morra. Minutes later Walker Wintoneak tacked on another, the second power-play goal of the night, giving the Rivermen a 3-1 entering the third period.
Peoria and Columbus combined for 31 penalties, including eleven in the second period alone.
“Special teams was the story of the night, they capitalized on the power play scoring two goals and added two short-handed goals,” Bechard said. “Five on five we played pretty even, and continued fighting getting within one.”
Down by three, Columbus attempted a comeback, scoring two straight goals, including a power play goal by Louis Belisle cutting the deficit down to one.
Peoria’s Connor Toomey ended any dream of a comeback, scoring on a 180-degree wraparound goal in front of the net. Brandon Greenside added a short-handed empty-netter giving the Rivermen the 6-3 victory.
“We played well enough to win, especially their early in the third,” Bechard said. “We did what we needed to do and matched their intensity, the lazy penalties are what end up killing you the most.”
Columbus goalie Shannon Szabados, who stopped 44 of 49 shots, has now lost her last four home decisions and is now 0-4 in her career against Peoria, including 0-3 this season.
Her counterpart, David Jacobson, stopped 29 of 32 shots, netting his sixth straight victory.
One game shy of tying the SPHL record for consecutive wins, the first-place Rivermen will go for history Saturday night when Peoria and Columbus meet again at 7:30 at the Columbus Civic Center. Gates open at 5 p.m. as the Legends game will be held directly before Saturday's game.
Friday at Columbus Civic Center
Peoria 1 2 3--6
Columbus 0 1 2--3
First period--1, Peoria, PP-Oskroba (unassisted) 15:45; Penalties—McKinlay, Columbus
(Hooking) 3:17; Bates, Columbus (High Sticking) 7:53; Stuart, Peoria (Holding) 9:59; Tuma,
Columbus (Cross Checking) 13:27; Tuma, Columbus (Roughing) 13:27; Callahan, Peoria
(Roughing) 13:27; Summers, Peoria (High Sticking) 16:45.
Second period—2, Columbus, Johnson (Henry, Hafner) 7:02; 3, Peoria, SH-Morra (Jacobson)
9:57; 4, Peoria, PP-Wintoneak (Summers, Toomey) 16:31; Penalties—Greenside, Peoria,
(Holding) 0:12; Willigar, Columbus (Hooking) 1:30; Johnson, Columbus (Cross Checking) 4:52;
Hagaman, Peoria (Hooking) 8:23; Bremner, Peoria (Tripping) 8:43; Belisle, Columbus
(Roughing) 8:43; Bremner, Peoria (Roughing) 13:20, Bates, Columbus (Roughing) 13:20;
Graves, Columbus (Elbowing) 16:08; Bremner, Peoria (Cross Checking) 16:43; Belisle,
Columbus (Slashing) 17:17;
Third period—5, Peoria, Summers (Pszenyczny, Oskroba) 2:51; 6, Columbus, Bates (Jackson)
8:03; 7, Columbus, PP-Belisle (Bathgate) 11:10; 8, Peoria, Toomey (Morra) 17:08; 9, Peoria,
SH-Empty Net-Greenside (unassisted) 18:56; Penalties-Power, Peoria (Boarding) 0:13; Belisle,
Columbus (Cross Checking) 0:48; Summers, Peoria (Hooking) 5:51; Pszenyczny, Peoria
(Hooking) 9:52; Hagaman, Peoria (Cross Checking) 18:06.
Shots on goal: Peoria 22-12-16; Columbus 10-10-12
Power plays: Peoria 2 of 8; Columbus 1 of 9
Goaltenders: Peoria, Jacobson (win) 59:42 10 9 10; Columbus, Szabados (loss) 59:43 21 10 13
Referee: Lucas Martin. Linesman: Bisbee, Kuerston