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Published: Thursday, 2/26/2004

Struggling Storm spins its wheels against Peoria

BY DAN SAEVIG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Toledo goalie Doug Teskey, center, tries to find the puck as a crowd gathers in front of the net in the first period. Toledo goalie Doug Teskey, center, tries to find the puck as a crowd gathers in front of the net in the first period.
MORRISON / BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

NASCAR legend Bobby Allison was at the Storm s game versus Peoria last night at the Sports Arena, mingling with fans, dropping the ceremonial first puck and signing autographs.

Too bad the native of Hueytown, Ala., didn t bring a pit crew.

The Storm could have used one to change the flat tires that disabled them for their 60 minute “race” with the Rivermen.

Peoria - which had lost four straight, including three at home - roared to an easy 6-1 decision as Toledo looked more like a horse-drawn plow than a race car.

“That was embarrassing,” Storm captain Alexandre Jacques said. “It sure looked like we re kind of quitting already. That s unacceptable.”

Judging by the boos from many in the crowd of 3,234, Storm fans agree with their captain. Either that, or perhaps they were voicing their displeasure with the fact Toledo still has 19 games to play in the ECHL regular season.

“If they re going to quit, then I ll go get guys from the WHA2 and the South East Hockey League who are going to work,” Storm coach Nick Vitucci said. “I want guys who are going to work. I won t stand for that. [This] morning, they re going to work. I hope they all read it in the paper today.”

Maybe then they ll be prepared for a hard practice, because they sure weren t ready to work against the Rivermen.

The visitors dropped their restrictor plates early and left the Storm smelling nothing but exhaust. Peoria scored once in the first, three times in the second and twice more in the third.

“I don t know what the guys are thinking,” said Jacques, who was called up to Milwaukee of the American Hockey League after the game but will be unable to join the Admirals - he s going home to Quebec because of the death of his grandmother. “Are they happy being on an East Coast team and being in last place? Do you expect that next year they re going to be able to come back and have a job again?

“I don t think so, the way we play. I ve played on teams with guys that wanted to get to the next level. Or guys at least that were proud and wanted to get better so that next year they could have a better contract or an opportunity to move from the third line to the second line.

“It s very pathetic and embarrassing.”

Allison was long gone before the rout ended and the few left in the stands probably wished they had been, too.

“The only guy who competed tonight was the guy who dropped the puck,” Vitucci said. “If he lost on the track, he d try to fight you in the pits.”

Aside from Allison, one of the biggest cheers came when it was announced there was only one minute left in the game.

For those keeping track, the Storm will wave the checkered flag on its season on April 3.

TESKEY RECALLED: Toledo goalie Doug Teskey will join Grand Rapids of the AHL today, where he ll spend the weekend backing-up ex-Storm goaltender Joey MacDonald.

It s Teskey s second stint in as many weeks with the Griffins, the top farm club of Toledo s ECHL parent, the Detroit Red Wings. He did not play during his first, two-game promotion.



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