MOLINE — There was a laser light show, a drum line performance, even a wedding proposal between periods.
It's officially hockey season in the Quad-Cities.
The Quad-City Storm made a statement in their home opener, defeating the defending Southern Professional Hockey League champion Huntsville Havoc 3-2 in a shootout Friday night at the TaxSlayer Center.
New Storm forward John Schiavo was instrumental in the win, scoring the game's first goal and also scoring in the shootout to victimize his former team after winning the title with the Havoc last season.
"That felt fantastic. We came out flying, which was great," Schiavo said. "The fans were awesome, I was so excited to see what our fans were going to be like at home and that was unbelievable. For us to get that big win and for me to get a good start against my old team felt great too."
The Storm have won both home openers in franchise history, needing extra time in both, beating Peoria in overtime to open last season. This is the Storm's first win over the Havoc after going 0-4-2 against Huntsville last season, with Shane Bennett and Joe Widmar also scoring in the shootout.
"This year, it's probably just as exciting because even with the core group of guys back from last year, there are a bunch of new faces ... a brand new atmosphere in the locker room," said goaltender Peter Di Salvo, who made 43 saves in the win and stopped three of the four shots he faced in the shootout. "It's a huge statement. Again, we're not the same hockey team as last year. Everybody's gotten better from last year, everyone's more prepared for this season and with the new faces we brought in, it's like the missing puzzle pieces to complete the picture."
All of the scoring came in the first period, a mixture of some good and bad for the Storm.
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The good came from the Storm winning puck battles, as Bennett won a battle in front of the Havoc bench, kicking the puck out to Dean Yakura. Yakura found a streaking Schiavo for the game's first goal at the 3-minute, 16-second mark of the first period.
Huntsville responded with a power-play goal at 9:38. A shot from Rob Darrar bounced off Di Salvo right to Tyler Piacentini, who had an easy look at the net to tie the game.
Another board battle led to the Storm's second goal. Widmar won the puck out to Stephen Gaul, who found Mathias Ahman in the slot for the rookie's first career goal at 13:24.
"Coach is preaching that so if we're doing that and being successful, winning wall battles, winning D-zone battles to get up the ice and get more offense," Schiavo said. "We were in the O-zone a lot tonight and we were bringing the pressure. We wanted the puck the whole night so I think with all the lines wanting the puck like that and wanting to score and wanting the pressure, I think it's going to be a totally different team this year."
However, a mistake from Widmar allowed the Havoc to knot the game back up. With the Storm on the power play, Widmar lost the puck to Kyle Sharkey at the Quad-City blue line and Sharkey beat Di Salvo with a shot off the crossbar for an unassisted shorthanded goal at 15:47 as both teams went into the first intermission tied 2-2.
The Storm have struggled on special teams through two games, allowing three goals on seven chances on the penalty kill and are now 0 for 9 on the power play after going 0 for 4 against the Havoc.
"Thursday, we did power play for 45 minutes. Maybe I've got to go two hours next week," head coach Dave Pszenyczny said. "Right now I think we're just too stagnant, we're not reading and if you notice, our PK in overtime, guys are talking. You have to react."
Both teams had chances in the latter two periods, but couldn't find the back of the net, much of that due to the play of the two goaltenders. Milosek finished with 27 saves for Huntsville.
"We knew we had to clean up our defensive play, not just our defensemen but our forwards as well," Di Salvo said. "I think me and Milosek stepped it up in both periods ... he made some big saves, I made some big saves.
"All around, it was probably, from the stands, a great hockey game to watch."