BY: Ray Schmitt, Voice of the Greenville Road Warriors
Last week was a see-saw week for the Road Warriors as they alternated wins and losses through the first four games of their five-game northern road trip. This week they finish off the trip with a visit to Coach Stork’s old stomping grounds before returning home for a pair of games to close out the week.
Record: 33-20-4, 70 pts., 2nd place South Division
Goals – Marc-Olivier Vallerand: 27
Assists – Justin Bowers: 50
Points – Justin Bowers: 67
+/- – 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 – Jason Missiaen: 15
GAA – Nic Riopel: 2.93
SVP – Nic Riopel: .910
Previewing the Upcoming Week:
2/28 at Cincinnati – 7:35 p.m., Home vs. CIN 0-0-0, Away vs. CIN 1-2-0
The Road Warriors are responsible for one of Cincinnati’s nine home losses this season and will try to make it 10 on Tuesday night. The game is Greenville’s final visit to Cincinnati for the season. US Bank Arena has been one of the toughest buildings for the Road Warriors to win in as evidenced by their 1-3-0 record there all-time. The biggest issue has been containing the Cyclones’ offense. Cincinnati is averaging 4.75 goals per game in the four games that Greenville has played at US Bank Arena. Greenville enters the week with six wins in its last 10 games while Cincinnati has won four over that same stretch. Despite having the second best home win percentage in the Eastern Conference (.741), the Cyclones have won just three of their last six home games.
3/2 vs. South Carolina – 7:35 p.m., Home vs. S.C. 5-0-0, Away vs. S.C. 2-2-0
Friday night will kick off the Road Warriors’ schedule for March against their most common opponent in the month. The Road Warriors face South Carolina in seven of their 14 games over the final month of the season. Three out of the seven games will be played at the BI-LO Center where the Stingrays haven’t won since February 9, 2011 – a span of seven games. The Road Warriors have played suffocating defense at home against South Carolina this season and have limited the Stingrays to an average of .8 goals per game at the BI-LO Center. The Stingrays haven’t scored more than two goals in a game in Greenville since a 5-3 win on January 21, 2011.
3/3 vs. Trenton – 7:05 p.m., Home vs. TRE 0-0-0, Away vs. TRE 1-0-0
Saturday’s game against Trenton is just one of two on Greenville’s March schedule that is not against a South Division opponent. They also host Cincinnati on March 18. The Titans will make their first, and only, appearance at the BI-LO Center on Saturday. Greenville claimed victory in its only visit of the season to Trenton last Friday with a 5-2 victory. Trenton will try to match the success of its Atlantic Division brethren who are 5-0-0 in Greenville; Wheeling is 1-0-0 and Reading is 4-0-0. Trenton is 9-11-5 on the road this season which includes a 1-3-1 mark in South Division buildings. The one win came on January 27, 2012 in North Charleston against the Stingrays.
2/27/12 – Off
2/28/12 – Pre-game skate at US Bank Arena, 11:00 a.m.
Road Warriors vs. Cincinnati, 7:35 p.m.
Depart from Cincinnati immediately after game.
2/29/12 – Arrive in Greenville 5:00 a.m.
* Practice/off-ice work schedule TBD
3/1/12 – * Practice at The Pavilion, TBD
3/2/12 – Road Warriors on “Your Carolina with Jack and Kimberly,” 10:00 a.m.
* Pre-game skate at BI-LO Center, 10:00 a.m.
Road Warriors vs. South Carolina, 7:35 p.m.
3/3/12 – * Pre-game skate at BI-LO Center, 10:00 a.m.
Road Warriors vs. Trenton, 7:05 p.m.
3/4/12 – Off
* Denotes an appearance/event that is not open to the general public. Road Warriors’ schedule is subject to change. It is recommended to contact the Road Warriors to confirm times of certain events, particularly practices.
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:
2/22 at Elmira: L 3-5
Playing with two fewer skaters than the maximum of 16 allowed by the ECHL, the Road Warriors put up a valiant effort last Wednesday against Elmira but came up just short. Greenville opened up a 2-0 first period lead on the back of power play goals by Sean Berkstresser and Jyri Niemi, but Elmira trimmed the lead down to one with a goal in the second by Rob Bellamy. That set the stage for a wild third period in which the Jackals tied the game at two with an early strike from John Kurtz. Niemi answered back for Greenville just past the midpoint of the period to restore the lead at 3-2. But Elmira rallied with three unanswered goals, including one empty netter, to steal the win away from the Road Warriors. Jason Missiaen was faced with 40 shots in the game and stopped 36. Former Road Warrior goalie Brian Stewart earned the win for the Jackals with 21 stops.
2/24 at Trenton: W 5-2
In their first ever visit to the Sun National Bank Center, the Greenville Road Warriors never trailed the Trenton Titans and used a two-goal third period to pick up a comfortable road win. Greenville started the game, as it did on Wednesday in Elmira, by scoring a pair of goals to open up a 2-0 lead. They came from Justin Bowers (PPG) and Brandon Wong in the first period before Andy Bombach scored his first of two goals on the night to make it 2-1 heading into intermission. Bombach then scored an early second period power play goal to knot the score at two. Jyri Niemi broke the tie with a power play goal and had Greenville in front by one heading into the third. Insurance goals in the final stanza came from Marc-Olivier Vallerand and Sean Berkstresser. Jason Missiaen turned away 28 shots to pick up the win in net.
2/25 at Reading: L 0-1
Despite only one goal being scored, Saturday night’s affair in Reading may have been the most entertaining game of the Road Warriors’ season so far. Goalies Jason Missiaen and Jussi Rynnas took turns making impressive save after impressive save as the Road Warriors and Royals dueled down to the wire. Reading’s Olivier Labelle scored the game’s only goal two seconds after Reading’s first power play of the game had expired. The Road Warriors peppered the net in the first two periods with 30 combined shots, but Rynnas made several spectacular saves, including a backdoor stop on Justin Bowers in the second period that looked like a sure-fire goal. Reading limited Greenville to seven shots in the final frame and Rynnas was there to thwart each one and preserve the 1-0 win. Missiaen stopped 27 shots but it wasn’t enough as Greenville was shut out for the third time this season.
2/26 at Reading: W 3-2
Persistence paid off for the Road Warriors on Sunday afternoon as they were able to pick up their first win of the season against Reading in their sixth, and final, try. With Reading’s Jussi Rynnas stopping 11 Greenville shots in the first period, including a penalty shot by Jason Wilson, and Denny Urban scoring a power play goal 46 seconds into the second period, it seemed like Greenville was heading down the same path as Saturday’s game. But a Jeff Prough even strength goal, 4:57 after Urban’s goal, woke up Greenville’s offense. Brandon Wong and Sean Berkstresser followed with power play goals within the next 4:09 of play to build a 3-1 lead for the Road Warriors. Reading’s Kyle Neuber chipped the lead down to one with 6:10 gone by in the third, but Jason Missiaen slammed the door from there. The rookie netminder turned in 25 saves to pick up his 15th win of the season.
* Brandon Wong is nominated for ECHL Player of the Week Honors. The second-year forward out of Victoria, British Columbia had four assists and two goals for six points in four games last week. Wong has 18 points (8G, 10A) in 13 games in the month of February.
* Fourth-year forward Sean Berkstresser has more than doubled his goal production for the season over the last seven games. After scoring three times in 50 games, Berkstresser has rattled off five goals in the last seven games. He has one game winner and two power play goals over that stretch.
* Goalie Jason Missiaen has started 12 of the 13 games that Greenville has played in the month of February. The rookie from Chatham, ON has posted a 7-4-1 mark over that span with a 2.97 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage. The only similar stretch in the history of the team was when Dov Grumet-Morris started all 12 games in December of 2010 and went 9-2-1 en route to Goalie of the Month honors.
* Greenville has a magic number of 23 to clinch a Kelly Cup Playoffs berth entering this week’s play. The maximum points ninth place Chicago can earn is 93 so by subtracting Greenville’s 70 points, you get the magic number. Greenville’s magic number is reduced any time the ninth place team loses in regulation and the Road Warriors win or lose in overtime/shootout, or when the ninth place team loses in overtime/shootout and Greenville wins in regulation.
* Greenville’s offense has been effective in February with 46 goals in 13 games for an average of 3.5 goals per game. The Road Warriors’ league-leading power play has accounted for 17 of those 46 goals which equates to 37 percent of the offense.
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.