The scraping of skates across the ice, the slap of the stick, the thud of bodies hitting the boards and then, all of a sudden, the crowd goes wild and the train horn blares, signaling a goal. The sounds of a live Peoria Rivermen hockey game are those that can’t be matched. Since the 1982-83 season, the Peoria Rivermen have been in continuous operation, making them one of the longest running minor league hockey teams in North America.
The Peoria Rivermen are the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues. With the current NHL lockout the Blues have sent their 2-way prospects to the AHL so the players can have a place to play and develop during the lockout, according to Brendan Burke, Director of Communications for the Peoria Rivermen. The St. Louis Blues have already sent 25 players to Peoria. Some of the 25 players include Andrew Murray, Adam Cranknell, Jake Allen and Mike McKenna. “No doubt [a lockout] is bad for hockey,” says Burke, “but the silver lining is that the games in Peoria are going to get better. Every team is going to get better and it’s going to make it more fun for fans to watch the games.”
The Peoria Rivermen, however, are an impressive AHL team without an NHL lockout. “We have had over 55 different players that played for both the Rivermen and the Blues in the same season since 2005,” says Burke. Those are some busy boys! This means that these players are playing at the AHL level and the NHL, respectively, when they are needed. If an injury occurs at the NHL level, the Blues would pull a player from the Rivermen to fill in, and that’s a great opportunity.
Watching hockey on T.V. is one way to experience the game, but it’s a totally different feel watching a game live. “Hockey never stops; its 100 miles per hour the whole game,” says Burke. “Start to finish.” The Rivermen have interactive activities in which fans can participate throughout the game, as well as free prizes thrown into the stands by the Avanti’s Ice Girls. You can also find Barry the blue bear mascot at every Rivermen home game supporting the team and interacting with fans. Rivermen hockey games are fun, fast-paced and have a ton of action. “There is something special to a live game,” states Burke. “Peoria is lucky; not many cities have an opportunity to have an AHL team so conveniently close.” Burke’s advice is, “if you have never been to a game, you got to try it.”
You have 31 chances to watch the Rivermen in action at home this season, with their first regular season home game October 19 at 7:05 p.m. in the Peoria Civic Center’s Carver Arena. For all ticket and schedule information visit, http://www.rivermen.net/.