PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The Rivermen feel like they’ve found a hundred dollars in the pocket of their blue jeans.
The team said being back on the ice at Civic Center, after a missed season last year, feels like an unexpected gift.
“I think it was more about getting to the Civic Center,” said Rivermen head coach Jean-Guy Trudel. “It was nice to get here and see the ice down. It’s been a long time, 18 months or so. It was nice to see the ice and guys getting on… it’s been a blast to see the Civic Center come back to life.”
The Rivermen had their season-opening SPHL games at Danville postponed last weekend when the expansion Vermillion County team had issues with its ice.
So this weekend, the Rivermen open their season with games Friday and Saturday at home. They’ll play their first games since March 2020.
“It’s opening weekend, we are home, the butterflies will definitely be there,” said Rivermen captain Alec Hagaman. “Hopefully after a shift or two they go away, and we can go to work.”
Trudel and Hagaman are essentially Rivermen lifers.
Hagaman grew up in Peoria going to games. Trudel, a former Rivermen star player, is now in his eighth season as head coach.
They understand how important this weekend is as they help bring hockey back to Peoria after it’s been absent for a year and a half.
“I know how big hockey is here in Peoria. People are excited to get back,” Hagaman said. “It will be a fun weekend. Hopefully, we bring them a couple of wins.”
The Rivermen host Macon at 7:15 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.
I feel like I’m a Peoria guy, I want to make our proud crowd every single time,” said Trudel. “I think excitement is a better word. It will be exciting to get back after such a long delay due to COIVD.”