FAYETTEVILLE, NC – A day after the Fayetteville FireAntz duo of Tayler Thompson and Chris Porter stung the RiverKings in a 4-1 win, the Mississippi RiverKings decided they had seen enough and snuffed out any sparks Thompson and Porter had left as the RiverKings cruised to a 4-2 win in front of a small crowd at the Crown Coliseum. The RiverKings held both Thompson and Porter scoreless in this game while using a variety of players themselves to light the lamp.
The Riverkings took advantage of their power play chances going 2-for-3 on the night with both Devin Mantha and Mike Moran scoring power-play goals in the second period to put the game out of reach for the FireAntz. After the two teams exchanged goals in the opening frame, the RiverKings turned up the pressure and tallied 3 goals in the middle frame. Cullen Bradshaw put the RiverKings up 2-1 only 2:33 into the period only to be answered on the power play by Brad Drobot of the FireAntz at the 5:24 mark. The FireAntz enforcer used power and sheer determination to cram the puck just over the goal line and past RiverKings goaltender Brad Barone during a scrum in the crease that saw all but 2 players on the ice involved. The RiverKings responded quickly though as Mantha would tally his second goal of the season with the man advantage for the eventual game-winner at the 7:38 mark. Rookie forward Mike Moran would capitalize on the power play for the RiverKings late in the second period for his first career pro goal as he rocketed a snap shot past FireAntz goalie Sean Bonar.
While the FireAntz seemed to pick up their energy to begin the final period while trailing 4-2, they quickly seemed to fizzle out. The Riverkings were content to play dump and chase hockey to protect their lead and the FireAntz seemed to not have the legs to do much chasing. After winning most of the battles along the boards and races to the puck last night, the FireAntz were beaten to the puck and lost board battles tonight.
RiverKings goaltender Brad Barone stopped 24 of 26 shots on the night for the win while FireAntz goaltender Sean Bonar suffered his first loss of the season stopping 23 of 27 shots to take the loss. Both teams finish the weekend tied at the top in the standings in a crowded first place position that includes two other SPHL teams, the Knoxville IceBears and the Huntsville Havoc. All four teams are 3-1 on the season.
The FireAntz will hit the road this upcoming Friday night to face the expansion Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs for the first ever meeting between the two teams before returning home to the Crown to face the Columbus Cottonmouths on Saturday night.
The Sin Bin’s Three Stars
★ – Devin Mantha F (1 G, Game Winner)
★★ – Brad Barone G (Win, 24 saves on 26 shots)
★★★ – Mike Moran F (1 G, 1st pro goal)