LAFAYETTE, LA – Murphy’s Law has hit hard since the Christmas break has ended. So far in the new year, we’ve had two winter storms and the Great Pointstreak Outage of 2018. Safe travels to all of y’all who are heading out to your respective rinks tonight.

Yes, the Great Pointstreak Outage of 2018 will forever live in infamy. If you are like me, you rely on Pointstreak to keep up with games, stats, schedules, and transactions around the SPHL. For the record, the outage was not the fault of the league or Pointstreak. An update to Amazon Web Services was the real culprit. If you’re not familiar with AWS, you’re not alone. However, AWS is the world’s largest cloud computing provider and manages computing, storage, networking, database systems, mobile tools, and application services. Roughly one-third of the internet runs through AWS. If you use any cloud computing – and chances are you do, even if you don’t realize it – you are working through AWS.

Making a long story short, Pointstreak was affected by a patch update from AWS and made its database systems (managed by AWS) unavailable for a good part of last weekend. Rather than fight through a losing battle, I took my kid out for sushi, and it was delicious.

We would like to thank all of you for once again participating so enthusiastically in our fan voting for this year’s SPHL All Star Team!  You have already surpassed last year’s voting totals, and we still have five more days of voting remaining. Since the SPHL – unlike the ECHL, AHL, and NHL – does not have an actual All Star game, giving the players recognition for a job well done is the least we can do. We appreciate all of your efforts, and I’m certain the players do as well.

However, one thing which is extremely troubling to me has been the apparent usage of scripts to artificially generate votes, rather than manually voting for players on our website. Last season, we initially set our polling system to allow voting every 12 hours. When we learned that the system could easily be compromised, we decided to even up the playing field by enabling unlimited voting – a policy we continue to employ. I personally find it distasteful and dishonorable for people to use automated scripts and ‘bots’ to automatically register votes rather than manually selecting and voting for players. We are extremely grateful for all of you fans who have spent hours on your phones, tablets, and computers to legitimately select your favorite players throughout our All Star fan voting and we sincerely encourage you to continue doing so. Remember, our All Star fan voting is supposed to be for fun and to encourage fans to work together to gather votes for your favorite players – it is not supposed to be a software-writing competition.

We have been tracking the SPHL callups to the ECHL all season long, and this season is on pace to be the busiest in league history. We have tracked 70 individual callups involving 60 different players. We decided to add an additional feature to our SPHL callup tracker and link each player to his ECHL stat page so you can, from a single click, see how your favorite players are doing.  There are currently 46 SPHL players still on ECHL callups, and we’ll continue to keep our tracker up to date throughout the season.

Speaking of callups, I’m taking one of my own. Tomorrow morning, I’m heading out on my personal ECHL callup to Indianapolis to join our site coverage of the 2018 CCM/ECHL All Star Classic. I’ll be joining up with Matthew Harding, Samantha Hoffmann, Kristen Wooten, Mark Grainda, Sarah Hobday, Ed Bailey, and John Wikman to bring you coverage of one of the ECHL’s premiere events. Our coverage begins Sunday at the ECHL Fan Fest, continuing with Monday’s press conference with NHL legend Wayne Gretzky and NASCAR star Tony Stewart. Later on Monday, we’ll be at the All-Star Classic and skills competition from the Indiana Farmers Coliseum, and finally the 2018 ECHL Hall of Fame induction – where former Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs coach Sam Ftorek will be one of this year’s honorees.  As a long-time and sometimes long-suffering, Edmonton Oilers fan, there are no words to describe my excitement to be able to meet one of my all-time favorite players. We are looking forward to bringing y’all as much of the weekend’s activities to you as we possibly can.

Finally, special congratulations goes out to former Pensacola and Fayetteville goaltnder Sean Bonar for registering his first ECHL shutout! Bonar, currently playing with the Atlanta Gladiators, blanked the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on January 6th with a 36-save effort.  The Swamp Rabbits are the current ECHL South Division leaders and the 6th highest scoring team in the league. Bonar is making the most of his ECHL opportunity with a 6-1-1 record, a 2.06 GAA and a .936 save percentage. Way to go, Bones!

Tonight’s Games

Title Belt Game: Evansville Thunderbolts at Peoria Rivermen – 7:15 CT

  • Tonight’s game is the sixth between the teams, with Peoria holding a 4-1-0 advantage. Evansville’s lone win was back on October 24th.
  • After a stretch where the Thunderbolts won eight of nine games, Evansville has now gone 2-2-2 over their last six contests.
  • The Rivermen has outscored the Thunderbolts, 8-4, in the third period through this season’s series.
  • Peoria’s Alec Hagaman has been a scoring machine lately, with 17 points (6G/11A) over the last ten games.

Fayetteville Marksmen at Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs – 7:05 ET

  • Tonight’s game is the first of three straight matches between the teams. Roanoke has won four of the previous seven meetings, including the two most recent games.
  • Fayetteville’s John Schiavo leads all scorers in the season series with nine points (3G/6A).
  • The Roanoke power play has been particularly faulty against the Marksmen. The Dawgs have converted on only three of 38 opportunities.
  • When trailing at home after two periods, the Dawgs have a 3-8-1 record. Roanoke’s three third-period comeback wins lead the league.

Macon Mayhem at Huntsville Havoc – 7:00 CT

  • The Series of Mass Destruction returns for the third time this season. The Havoc have won both previous battles.
  • What’s a penalty kill? Both teams’ power plays have been dominant in the season series. Macon has four power play goals in 13 attempts, while Huntsville is a staggering five for 12.
  • Macon (22.9%) and Huntsville (22.5%) have the league’s top two overall power play units.
  • The Mayhem has a league-leading +11 goal differential in the third period.

Knoxville Ice Bears at Mississippi RiverKings – 7:00 CT

  • In the teams’ only previous meeting this season, the RiverKings edged the Ice Bears in a 4-3 decision on opening night.
  • The RiverKings will be without the services of SPHL goal-scoring leader Dillan Fox, who has been called up to the ECHL Reading Royals.
  • Knoxville leads the SPHL with 25 power play goals on the season and an 87.2% penalty kill rate.
  • Mississippi is in a four-way tie for the league lead in shorthanded goals with five.

Birmingham Bulls at Pensacola Ice Flyers – 7:05 CT

  • The season series between the teams is split at a game each, with the Bulls winning the previous meeting, 4-3, on Tuesday night in Pelham.
  • The Ice Flyers have had two of their three rostered goalies called up this week. Gordon Defiel was called up to the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears, while newcomer Alex Sakellaropoulos is off to the Cincinnati Cyclones.
  • Birmingham’s Andy Bathgate, Josh Harris, and Alex Taulien have had hot sticks lately. Each have two goals over the Bulls’ last five games.
  • Neither team has been effective when playing with a man advantage, Pensacola (13.1%) and Birmingham (9.5%) have the SPHL’s least effective power plays.

Saturday’s Games

  • Roanoke at Fayetteville – 6:00 pm ET
  • Macon at Knoxville – 7:35 pm ET
  • Mississippi at Huntsville – 7:00 pm CT
  • Birmingham at Pensacola – 7:05 pm CT
  • Peoria at Evansville – 7:15 pm CT

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