The Golden Eagles have won eight straight games, and one more win tonight when Peoria visits the Salt Palace at 7 would give the franchise its longest win streak since it entered the International Hockey League in 1984-85. Salt Lake is again poised to move into the West Division lead, standing two points behind Milwaukee, which plays Saginaw tonight; Saginaw has won 13 straight.
The Eagles have won six straight games over former Eagle Coach Wayne Thomas' Rivermen; the only time the Rivermen won against the Eagles this season was Oct. 23 in the Eagles' ninth game of the season.Yet Eagle Coach Paul Baxter, whose team also hosts the Rivermen Saturday night in the Salt Palace, admits, "I'm scared to death. Every time we play Peoria, they seem to come up with an excellent effort."
Last week, the Eagles escaped with two close wins over the Rivermen, who were making their first appearance in the Salt Palace Jan. 30-31. The Eagles won 4-3 in a game Peoria could have tied in the final minute, and they won 3-1 in a game that was 2-1 until an empty-net goal by Randy Bucyk with just :02 left.
On Jan. 11, the Eagles beat the Rivermen at Peoria in overtime in Guenette's first appearance as an Eagle, and in their two encounters before that, the Eagles won in an overtime shootout and by a 6-5 score in Peoria. A 6-3 win there on Nov. 20 was the only time the Birds were comfortably ahead of a team that suffered a 14-game losing streak early this season.
The Eagles, who have five games left on an 11-game homestand and have 14 remaining home games overall, are only eight wins short of the franchise record of 29 home wins set in 1981-82. An 8-6 record would tie the mark. With 34 wins overall, the Eagles are 15 behind the franchise record of 49, set in 1979-80; there are 29 games left in the Eagle regular season.