BY: Ray Schmitt, Voice of the Greenville Road Warriors
Last week the Greenville Road Warriors closed out their second-longest home stand of the season with a pair of wins and an overtime loss to go 4-1-1 on the stand. This week they’ll play four games of a five-game road trip spanning eight days and taking them through four states.
Record: 31-18-4, 66 pts., 2nd place South Division
Goals – Marc-Olivier Vallerand: 26
Assists – Justin Bowers: 47
Points – Justin Bowers: 63
+/- – Brendan Connolly: +18
PIMs – T.J. Reynolds: 166
PPG – Marc-Olivier Vallerand/Jeff Prough: 9
SHG – Brendan Connolly/Marc-Olivier Vallerand/Jeremy Gouchie: 1
Wins – Nic Riopel/#Jason Missiaen: 13
GAA – Nic Riopel: 2.93
SVP – Nic Riopel: .910
Previewing the Upcoming Week:
2/22 at Elmira – 7:05 p.m., Home vs. ELM 0-0-0, Away vs. ELM 0-0-0
The Road Warriors will be taking on Elmira for the first time this season when they visit First Arena on Wednesday. The last time the teams met was on Saturday, April 9, 2011 in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the Kelly Cup playoffs. The finish of that game provided the Road Warriors’ top moment from their inaugural season as Sean Berkstresser scored the series clinching goal in double overtime. The Jackals enter this week in second place in the Atlantic Division and four points behind Greenville for fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. The Road Warriors split the two regular season meetings at the BI-LO Center with Elmira last year.
2/24 at Trenton – 7:00 p.m., Home vs. TRE 0-0-0, Away vs. TRE 0-0-0
Friday’s contest will be the first for the Road Warriors against the Titans. Last season they faced the Titans’ predecessors, the Trenton Devils, once and defeated them 3-2 in overtime at the BI-LO Center on March 4, 2011. Friday will mark Greenville’s first ever appearance at the Sun National Bank Center, but it will be a homecoming, of sorts, for forward Jeff Prough. The Road Warriors’ winger played three seasons with the Devils in Trenton from 2008 to 2011 and scored 86 goals in his Devils career.
2/25 & 2/26 at Reading – 7:05 p.m. & 4:05 p.m., Home vs. REA 0-2-1, Away vs. REA 0-0-0
The Reading Royals have turned conventional wisdom on its ear this season by winning the fewest home games of any Eastern Conference team (7) but leading the league in road wins (17). Three of those road wins came in Greenville against the Road Warriors, so Greenville will be trying to return the favor this Saturday and Sunday. Greenville is 1-1-0 in its history at the Sovereign Center. Reading enters this week on a three-game winning streak, and like the Road Warriors, has a busy week ahead with four games in five days.
2/20/12 – Off
“Between the Pipes” radio show at Ford’s Oyster House and Cajun Kitchen, 7:00 p.m.
Road Warriors players and Rowdy at the Pavilion for Learn to Play Hockey, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Team departs for Elmira, NY, 9:00 p.m.
2/21/12 – * Practice at First Arena, Noon
2/22/12 – * Pre-game skate at First Arena, 11:00 a.m.
Road Warriors vs. Elmira, 7:05 p.m.
2/23/12 – * Practice at Sun National Bank Center, TBD
2/24/12 – * Pre-game skate at Sun National Bank Center, 11:00 a.m.
Road Warriors vs. Trenton, 7:00 p.m.
2/25/12 – *Pre-game skate at Sovereign Center, 11:00 a.m.
Road Warriors vs. Reading, 7:05 p.m.
2/26/12 – Road Warriors vs. Reading, 4:05 p.m.
* Denotes an appearance/event that is not open to the general public.
Road Warriors Broadcast Information
All Greenville Road Warriors games are broadcast live online courtesy of America One. You can listen to every game for free by clicking on the “Listen Live” link located on the Road Warriors’ home page – Greenvilleroadwarriors.com. The Road Warriors Pre-Game Show kicks off every broadcast 15 minutes prior to faceoff.
Recapping Last Week:
2/14 vs. Gwinnett: W 6-3
The Road Warriors overcame two different one-goal deficits and rattled off five unanswered goals over the second and third periods to take down the conference-leading Gladiators. With Gwinnett leading 2-1 after one, Marc-Olivier Vallerand put the Road Warriors in the fast lane to comeback city with his first of two goals 3:38 into the second period. The barrage also included tallies from Brandon Wong, Brett Robinson, and Jyri Niemi before being capped by Vallerand at 18:45 of the third. Five different Road Warriors tallied multi-point games with Brendan Connolly leading the way with three assists. Jason Missiaen turned in 32 saves for his 12th win of the season.
2/17 vs. Toledo: W 8-3
Greenville put on another impressive offensive display on Friday night by setting a new team record for goals in a game thanks to a five-goal outburst over the first 8:59 of the third period. Greenville lead 3-1 at 9:48 of the second period thanks to a power play goal by Brett Robinson, but Toledo scored power play goals 16 seconds apart before the end of the stanza to knot the score. Greenville came storming back with a power play goal from Justin Bowers 51 seconds into the third, but that was only the beginning. By the time the dust had settled Bowers netted a second with Sean Berkstresser, Bretton Cameron and Jyri Niemi also chipping in. For the game, all but three Road Warriors skaters registered at least on point. One of those skaters to not point was Francis Meilleur who was a +5 and tied the league mark for highest +/- rating in a game this season.
2/19 vs. Toledo: OTL 1-2
Thrust into a starting role with Jason Missiaen called up and Nic Riopel injured, goalie B.J. O’Brien acclimated himself to the ECHL very quickly. Called up by the Road Warriors from Louisiana of the Southern Professional Hockey League just hours before the game, O’Brien posted 34 saves and helped the Road Warriors earn a point in the standings by making it to overtime. Rookie Brent Cornelius scored his first professional goal just past the midway point of the first to stake Greenville to a 1-0 lead. That advantage held until 10:40 of the third when Joey Martin scored unassisted to tie the game. Greenville had a chance to end it late in overtime with a power play but could not convert. Then, with six seconds left, Kyle Rogers sent a shot between O’Brien’s pads for the game winning goal.
Greenville’s 31 wins are the most in the Eastern Conference and third most in the ECHL behind Alaska (35), and Ontario and Las Vegas (32). At this point last season the Road Warriors were second in the league with 32 victories (32-19-2).
With Brent Cornelius scoring his first professional goal on Sunday against Toledo, every skater on Greenville’s current roster has scored at least one goal this season. The Road Warriors are fifth in the ECHL with 3.36 goals per game.
B.J. O’Brien became this sixth different goalie to play a game for the Road Warriors this season when he made 34 saves in Sunday’s 2-1 OT loss to Toledo. That is one more than the Road Warriors used in 2010-11 and is tied with Reading and Toledo for the most goalies used this season.
Greenville is 4-2-0 in its last six road games. All of those were played against South Division foes and both losses came in Gwinnett. The Road Warriors haven’t played an away game outside of the division since a 5-3 loss in Wheeling on January 8, 2012. That capped a 3-3-0 northern trip that spanned 10 days.
Brendan Connolly had his point streak halted at 14 games on Sunday. That streak netted him 26 points (10G, 16A), set a new team record for a point streak, and tied him with Colorado’s Chad Costello for the second longest point streak in the ECHL this season. Connolly has at least a point in all but seven of the games he has played in this season.
Friday, March 2: Road Warriors vs. South Carolina Stingrays, 7:35 p.m. – Pink in the Rink presented by Greenville Hospital System. Join the Road Warriors in their annual event to raise money and awareness in the fight against breast cancer. The Road Warriors will wear pink-themed jerseys, play on pink ice, and have many other events to aid the cause. The jerseys will be auctioned off live after the game with proceeds going to the Mary Kay Foundation.
Saturday, March 3: Road Warriors vs. Trenton Titans, 7:05 p.m. – Faith and Family Night. Any group of 10 or more from churches throughout the Upstate can get specially discounted tickets for the game! Tickets must be booked in advance by calling 864-674-PUCK (7825) and are based on availability.
Tuesday, March. 6: Road Warriors vs. Gwinnett, 7:35 p.m. – Two For Tuesday. Show your BI-LO BONUSCARD at the Breakaway Honda Ticket Office window to get a free ticket when you buy another ticket of equal value.