PEORIA — The Peoria Rivermen kept six defensemen and goaltender Mason Pulde, along with mainstays Alec Hagaman and Mike Gurtler, on their roster protection list as they began their rebuild in a bid for another SPHL Finals appearance on Wednesday.

Each SPHL team was permitted to reserve the rights to 13 players from their respective final rosters of the 2017-18 season. Those players can only play in the SPHL next season for the teams that protected their rights. They also can not be chosen by incoming franchise Quad City in the league’s upcoming expansion draft. ...

Peoria covered its captain and SPHL Defenseman of the Year, Dave Pszenyczny.

And he’s joined on the protected list by defensemen Ben Oskroba, Kevin Patterson, Brandon Rumble, Nick Neville and Cody Smith.

The Rivermen kept veteran winger (Mike) Gurtler and all-SPHL winger (Alec) Hagaman -- both of whom had career years -- plus top centers Justin Greenberg and Joe Widmar, playoff force Joe Kalisz and power forward Ryan Siiro.

(Mason) Pulde, who came up from the low-A Federal Hockey League and stunned the SPHL with a 1.44 goals-against and .956 saves rate, completes the list.

Left off the list -- and now free agents -- were big winger Cody Dion, veteran winger Connor Gorman, winger Keegan Bruce (the son of Rivermen Hall of Famer David Bruce), center-winger Chris Horn, center-defenseman Jordan Carvalho, defensemen Geoff Fortman and Kristaps Nimanis and goaltender Tyler Parks.

Dion played parts of three seasons for the Rivermen, but moved up into the league’s veteran category status, leaving Peoria with no real way to keep him on its roster. ...

Being left off the 13-man list means those players are free agents and can sign with any SPHL team. That includes potential return to Peoria. ...


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