PEORIA, Ill. - Nine times out of 10, this kind of goaltending and defense would have been good enough to win.
But the Peoria Rivermen could not beat the odds - or the Toledo Storm - surrendering an early goal, then watching as two punchless attacks settled into a goaltending duel on the way to a 1-0 loss before 6,056 last night at Carver Arena.
"You can't worry about how many we're going to score, you just have to prepare and give your team the best chance you can to win," said rookie Rivermen goaltender Chris Beckford-Tseu, who was terrific. "Yes, most of the time you win these kind of games. But tonight, it just wasn't good enough."
Former ECHL All-Star Nick Parillo skated through the right circle and snapped a drive right between Beckford-Tseu's pads at 13:50 of the first period, and that was all Toledo needed.
Detroit Red Wings prospect Logan Koopmans preserved that lead and won out over Blues prospect Beckford-Tseu in a battle of 20-year-old goalies.
"The early goal really helped us settle into our system, gave us confidence," Koopmans said. "I like to see a lot of shots, because it keeps you in the game. But there's something about a 1-0 game that keeps you on your toes, feels challenging."
Both sides had several chances to score.
Peoria captain Trevor Baker's drive from the right circle deflected near the top of the right post and stayed out with two minutes left in the first period.
The Rivermen had another chance 1:38 into the second period when veteran left wing Brian McCullough went in on a breakaway from the blue line, but Koopmans got his stick on it and kicked it aside.
About a minute later Beckford-Tseu stopped Dan Eberly's walk-in bid with his right pad.
Beckford-Tseu made another nice stop during a Toledo power play at 9:02, smothering Sylvain Dufresne's one-timer from the middle of the right circle.
Toledo center Pierre-Luc Sleigher missed an easy one 41 seconds later when Maris Ziedins' drive from the left circle deflected off the upper part of the left post and landed in the right circle.
Sleigher had an empty net, but flipped the puck over the crossbar.
Rivermen center Tyler Rennette had a follow up chance off a set up by defenseman James Sanford at 9:50 of the third period, but with Koopmans down, Rennette could not lift the puck into an unguarded top half of the net.
Seconds later, Peoria rookie Troy Riddle camped at the net and deflected a shot that bounced off Koopmans and into the air. The goaltender lost sight of the puck, but it dropped to the ice just outside the right post and skidded away.
"I knew it hit me, but I didn't know where it was," grinned Koopmans. "Sometimes, you get lucky bounces."
Both teams could use a few more of those.
"We've been having trouble scoring goals, and it's a situation we shouldn't be in," Toledo head coach Nick Vitucci said. "I'm sure [Rivermen head coach] Jason Christie is probably saying the same thing over in his room.
"We're making it hard on ourselves, really pushing our goaltending."