PEORIA — The Peoria Rivermen are out of the SPHL postseason via a stunning first-round upset, but their dominance lives on in the league awards season.
Bittersweet perhaps, but the 40-7-9 Rivermen have landed multiple spots on the All-Rookie Team and the first- and second-team All-SPHL squads.
Rivermen center Ben Blasko, center Justin Greenberg, captain Alec Hagaman, defenseman Nick Neville and goaltender Steve Klein all earned honors.
Blasko was named to the SPHL All-Rookie team. So was goaltender Steve Klein.
Blasko won the Kevin Swider Leading Scorer Award as the SPHL's scoring champion, with a league-high 68 points on 19 goals, a league-high 49 assists and a league-best plus-40 rating. Blasko had an 18-game pointscoring streak, the longest in the SPHL in five years.
He is the first player from the Rivermen franchise to win a league scoring championship since center Michel Mongeau did it in the old IHL in 1989-90 in a season that included a 31-game pointscoring streak.
Klein won 22 games, posted five shutouts and ranked No. 1 among SPHL goaltenders with a 1.86 goals-against and .923 saves rate.
Here's the SPHL All-Rookie Team:
Forwards: Ben Blasko (Peoria), Rob Darrar (Huntsville), Scott Cuthrell (Knoxville).
Defensemen: (tie) Doug Rose (Knoxville), Alec Brandrup (tie), Garrett Schmitz (Birmingham).
Goaltender: Steve Klein (Peoria).
Blasko, meanwhile, was selected to the All-SPHL First Team, while Hagaman, Greenberg and Neville earned second-team spots.
Neville had a terrific season, finishing with a plus-20 rating and third among all SPHL defensemen with 33 points.
Hagaman and Greenberg both finished in the top nine in SPHL scoring.
Here's a look at the All-SPHL First Team:
Forwards: Ben Blasko (Peoria), Josh Harris (Birmingham), Ryan Salkeld (Huntsville).
Defensemen: Travis Jeke (Fayetteville), Garrett Schmitz (Birmingham).
Goaltender: Mavric Parks (Birmingham).
And here's the All-SPHL Second Team:
Forwards: (tie) Justin Greenberg (Peoria), Alec Hagaman (Peoria), John Siemer (Macon), Jake Trask (Macon).
Defensemen: Nick Neville (Peoria), Doug Rose (Knoxville).
Goaltender: Brian Billett (Pensacola).
RIVER READINGS: The SPHL Defenseman of the Year is next, on Monday. That'll be either Travis Jeke (Fayetteville) or Garrett Schmitz (Birmingham). ... SPHL MVP is likely to be Birmingham goaltender Mavric Parks, who won 30 games. ... SPHL Coach of the Year? That should go to Rivermen boss Jean-Guy Trudel for his 40-7-9 team. But Jamey Hicks' team at Birmingham won 39 games, and he's deserving, too. ... Rivermen winger Austin Vieth led Peoria with 24 goals -- but did not make the SPHL All-Rookie Team. He led all SPHL rookies in goalscoring, and finished seventh in points.
Dave Eminian covers the Rivermen for the Journal Star, and writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.