Randy Bucyk won the faceoff and drew the puck cleanly and quickly back to Paul Ranheim standing near the top of the left-wing circle.
"And then I just got myself set up so I could be in the best possible position to see it go in," said Bucyk. "I knew it was going in."Ranheim, the Eagles' rookie left wing who made franchise history Wednesday night with his second goal of the game, said his big moment left him "in a fog. I was pretty excited," he said.
"I remember lining up for the faceoff, and Randy winning it very cleanly. Once the puck landed on my stick, I kind of had a feeling it was going to go in," Ranheim said.
Ranheim had scored his 59th goal of the season to tie Joe Mullen's 9-year-old club record at 19:47 of the first period on a hard rush up the slot, and he got his 60th of the season, the record breaker, at 4:26 of the third period to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead.
Peter Lappin, who started the play that led to Ranheim's first goal with a hard check that separated Riverman from puck, got the game's last goal at 8:50 of the third, and the Eagles finished the seven-game homestand with a 4-1 victory over the Peoria Rivermen.
The Eagles left this morning for Indianapolis, where they play Friday.
It was the Eagles' 10th straight win, a season high that leaves them two behind the club record; it was their 10th straight home win; and it was their 49th win of the season, tying the club record set in 1979-80, when Mullen was a rookie. They now have 101 points, tying the franchise's second-highest mark.
"It was a great night," said Bucyk, a 26-year-old centerman who has three championship rings including an NHL Stanley Cup ring. "I've been a part of championships, but something like this, that's a different type of excitement than anything I've ever been part of.
"You feel like a young kid watching that guy go," Bucyk said of Ranheim, who may be one of the fastest skaters to ever play pro hockey but who, despite his youth, uses his speed wisely. "He's exciting to watch; he's exciting to play with," Bucyk said.
Ranheim enjoyed the pressure of chasing Mullen's record but was glad it's over for the team's sake. "I didn't want to carry it on too much longer," he said. "It was nice to get it at home. People were following it and knew it was in sight."
Though it was a home game for the Eagles, the University of Wisconsin product had no family or close friends in the Salt Palace to share his night. He has kept his family up to date - it's the first major record he's ever set. There were none in college, he said.
Ranheim will get to tell Mullen about it first-hand. Mullen is with the Eagles' parent team, the Calgary Flames, and the Eagles are detouring through Chicago to watch the Flames play Sunday night.
"I'm sure he'll give me a hard time," said Ranheim about Mullen, who spent 2 1/2 seasons with the Eagles when they were St. Louis Blues' property. "It's just exciting to break his record," Ranheim said.
His next project is the IHL record for goals by a rookie - 66. The league record for goals is 75; Ranheim has 12 in his last 10 games but would need 16 in the last 10 to break that IHL mark.
"I think he'll probably get 70," said Eagle Coach Paul Baxter. "I couldn't be more pleased. He's a good person and a good player."
Almost lost in Ranheim's night was the Eagles' fourth straight one-goal-against game - the fifth time in six games they've done that. Goalie Steve Guenette, who gave up the goal 1:32 into the game to Peoria's Jim Vesey, has been in net for four of those one-goal games.
"I think we're a team that takes a lot of pride in the quick pressure we can demonstrate on the other team's offense; we're good at giving up a minimal amount of quality scoring chances," said Baxter. "And we're going to get better."
EAGLE NOTES - Rookie defenseman Kevin Grant will join the club Monday after graduating from juniors, where he played for the Sudbury Wolves. "He's big and tough, moves the puck extremely well and has a great shot," says Baxter. Grant's a second-round draft choice - "right after Ranheim," Baxter says. "He can play." . . . The Eagles go to Saginaw Saturday and Indianapolis Tuesday.