Staring playoff elimination in the face, the Peoria Rivermen came back to defeat the Houston Aeros, 2-1, on Saturday night at Carver Arena.
Jonathan Filewich was Peoria’s hero, breaking a 1-1 tie 4:43 into the third period in support of a 28-save outing from Manny Legace.
The Rivermen were outshot 25-11 through the first two periods, but they turned up the intensity in the final frame by blasting 13 shots to the Aeros’ four. The most important, though, came off of Filewich’s stick. Danny Richmond centered the puck from behind the net to Filewich who was just outside of the crease. The right-winger lifted his wrister to the top right corner of the net over a sprawled out Anton Khudobin for the eventual game-winning goal.
Legace did his fair share to propel the Rivermen to a Game 6 win, making a spectacular save with 4:35 left in the game to preserve the 2-1 lead. Robbie Earl skated in deep and delivered a close shot, but Legace slid to his left to guard the post and somehow snatched the puck with his glove.
Houston’s Matt Beaudoin was the first skater to light up the scoreboard. A hooking minor by Jori Lehtera put the Aeros on the man advantage at 10:19 into the first second period. Only 42 seconds later, Corey Locke slid a pass across the top of Legace’s crease to a parked Beaudoin who lifted the puck into the net to give Houston a 1-0 lead. Beaudoin’s goal was his second of the series, and his seventh point.
But the Rivermen notched a clutch goal to tie the game 1-1 before the third period. Chris Porter threw a puck toward the net from the outside edge of the left circle, and Trent Whitfield redirected the soft wrister over Khudobin’s shoulder to tie the game with only 1:23 to go in the second period. The game-tying goal was the Rivermen captain’s second of the semifinal series.
Game 7 is set for Monday night, with the winner advancing to meet Milwaukee in the West Division Finals.