Bill Peters’ search for answers has so far turned up dry.
After watching his team come out flat inexplicably for fifth time in this season’s first nine home games, the Rockford head coach retreated to his bench on Saturday night exasperated for the third period.
By my count, Peters used at least twelve different line combinations over the final twenty minutes. It was orchestrated chaos and Peters’ team responded with its best period of the night, but that wasn’t even enough to get on the scoreboard.
Rockford outshot Peoria 12-6 in the third and 31-21 in the game but Peoria won the only count that matters, defeating IceHogs by a score of 5-0 at the MetroCentre.
In the win, Peoria rookie Jake Allen set a Rivermen AHL (2005-current) franchise record for shutouts in a single season by white-washing the Rockford shooters 31 times, to post his 4th shutout in just 8 starts. The previous Peoria shutout record (3) was set by Manny Legace during the 2008-09 season.
Saturday’s was a team shutout. Allen was very good and made some great stops locating pucks through screens and one-on-one challenges. But his defense also cleared a lot of rebounds and beat the IceHogs to most of the loose pucks in the Peoria zone.
The latter point was the story of the night. Rockford could not match Peoria’s intensity from the initial puck drop through to the final horn. A few players tried and succeeded in spurts. Garnet Exelby showed some snarl late in the first, but the score was already 3-0 by then. Kyle Beach had his best, most physical shift in weeks with five minutes to go in the middle period. Jeremy Morin stood up to Peoria defenders on occasion one night after getting into a spirited fight with Red Wings’ defensive prospect Brendan Smith.