LAFAYETTE, LA — The fourth weekend of play in the Southern Professional Hockey League kicks into high gear tonight with eight of the league’s ten teams in action tonight. The expansion teams meet again for a two-game set, but this time the Evansville Thunderbolts will pay a visit to the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs. In Knoxville, the Macon Mayhem try to halt the Knoxville Ice Bears‘ hot streak. Meanwhile, at the Hangar, the Pensacola Ice Flyers try for their first home win against the Columbus Cottonmouths. Finally, the Mississippi RiverKings host the Fayetteville FireAntz.

Last night, the Ice Bears overcame a 3-1 deficit after two periods with a furious third-period comeback against the Rail Yard Dawgs. Berkley Scott scored two goals in the final frame – including the game-winner – as the Dawgs lost their third game to the Bears this season. Rookie forward David Gandara had a two-goal effort for Roanoke.

The Ice Flyers were delayed by a wildfire while making the trip up to Huntsville to face off against the Havoc. The start of the game was delayed by a little more than an hour before the Flyers finally arrived at the Von Braun Center. The Havoc took full advantage of Pensacola’s bus legs, building a quick 2-0 lead in the first period. Pensacola managed to stay in the game with a second-period goal from rookie John Gustafsson, playing in his first professional game. Finally, with Flyers goaltender Drew Fielding on the bench for an extra attacker, Corey Banfield banged home the game-tying goal with 58 seconds remaining in regulation.

Overtime settled nothing, and fans were treated to this in the shootout…

Justin Tateson‘s filthy, far-reaching backhand was the shootout clincher for the Havoc, winners of their fourth straight game.

Tonight’s Games

Evansville Thunderbolts at Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs

  • Third meeting between the teams this season. The Rail Yard Dawgs won both previous games between the expansion teams.
  • The Augusta Riverhawks have the league’s longest season-opening streak without a regulation win at nine games. The Thunderbolts winless streak is currently at eight games.
  • The Dawgs are outscoring opponents 13-7 in the second period, while the Bolts have been outscored 18-4.
  • Roanoke has the league’s best penalty kill at the Berglund Center with a 91.3 success rate.
  • Roanoke’s Jackson Brewer is riding six-game assist and point-scoring streaks.

Macon Mayhem at Knoxville Ice Bears

  • First meeting between the teams this season. The Ice Bears defeated the Mayhem in seven of eight games last season.
  • Danny Cesarz, the Ice Bears leading scorer with 11 points, has not scored a goal this season. Cesaez leads the SPHL in points and assists.
  • Macon defenseman Nick Grasso has a three-game goal-scoring streak.
  • The Ice Bears have the league’s top penalty kill at 95.5%. Additionally, the Bears lead the SPHL in shorthanded goals with two.

Columbus Cottonmouths at Pensacola Ice Flyers

  • Third meeting between the teams this season, with each team winning a game.
  • The Snakes are a strong 3-1-0 on the road, while the Flyers are winless at the Hangar at 0-2-1.
  • Columbus’ Riley Spraggs is third among SPHL rookies in scoring with seven points (2G/5A).
  • The Ice Flyers are last in the league in both special teams categories. Pensacola’s power play is at 7.1% and their penalty kill is successful 71.9% of the time.

Fayetteville FireAntz at Mississippi RiverKings

  • The teams last met two weeks ago in Fayetteville with the teams splitting the two-game weekend series.
  • The team scoring first in the team’s season series has lost the game.
  • The Kings have scored only one third-period goal this season.
  • Fayetteville has the longest current losing streak with three regulation losses in a row.

Saturday’s Games

  • Title Belt Game: Huntsville at Peoria – 7:05 CT
  • Columbus at Pensacola – 7:05 CT
  • Macon at Evansville – 7:15 CT
  • Fayetteville at Mississippi – 7:30 CT

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