It’s been 196 days since the Louisiana IceGators’ season ended on a Dennis Sicard overtime goal in Knoxville. Twenty-eight weeks of waiting for this moment when the past can be put to rest, when the records are reset, and the IceGators return to the ice. At 7:05 tonight, that moment will finally arrive when the puck drops at the Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi when the IceGators visit the Mississippi RiverKings. IceGator hockey will finally be back.

The RiverKings have also had their season end at the hands of the Knoxville Ice Bears in the President’s Cup Final.  The Kings’ fans have also been waiting for the moment to take another run at the league championship. That journey begins tonight for both the RiverKings and the IceGators.

Opening night in the SPHL has some interesting storylines. The teams with the best regular-season records in the past two seasons play in Peoria, the Macon Mayhem play their first ever game on home ice, and the Huntsville Havoc get to put their disastrous season behind them. The best storyline of this night, however, was set on August 19th when the IceGators traded winger Benji Rubin to the RiverKings for goaltender Adam Courchaine. Courchaine was the odd man out in Mississippi when the RiverKings decided to sign Peter Di Salvo to be their full-time goaltender. The IceGators were looking for a steady presence in the pipes, and the deal was made. Tonight, Courchaine returns to Southaven ready to play against his former platoon-mate in what could be a great goaltending duel.

IceGators Coach Drew Omicioli is looking forward to the unique challenges that the RiverKings bring, saying, “They’re a difficult team to prepare for because they don’t stick to a set system in a game. They like to mix things up – they kind of just go, so we always have to be on our toes against them.”

“They’re going to be talented.”, Omicioli continues on the RiverKings, “They have guys like Leo Thomas, (Matt) Harrington, and some good young guys. They’ll be skilled and they’ll be quick.”

Omicioli says that his IceGators “Are going to be physical, and going to be aggressive. The RiverKings will provide a good challenge in game one, but I expect nothing less than a win tonight.”

​The puck drops on the IceGators 2015-16 season at 7:05 tonight at Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi. The game will be streamed live at SPHL Live on NeuLion.  Five For Chomping will provide real-time updates on Twitter. Follow the hashtag #LOUvsMRK for all of tonight’s action. #LetsGeaux

Tonight’s Rosters

​IceGators
1    G    Courchaine, Adam
2    D    Armstrong, Travis
3    D    Kuqali, Nicholas
4    D    Cornell, Dan
5    D    Ciccarello, Jordan
9    LW    Kasteel, Luke
11    LW    Wudrick, Geordie
15    C    Ruffolo, Trent
19    C    Hauswirth, Jake
20    RW    Hietala, Blake
22    LW    Wilson, Chris
26    D    Bourke, Brad
27    LW    Barr, Tyler
33    D    Pisano, Anthony
35    G    Imoo, Jonah
39    C    Boyer, Jeremy
61    RW    Gavrik, Vladyslav
96    C    Hudson, Alex
RiverKings
3    D    Campbell, Reid
6    D    Willmott, Dean
7    D    Higgins, Sam
9    LW    Marcuz, Ryan
10    C    Mantha, Devin
11    LW    Rubin, Benjamin
12    C    Beaudry, Michael
15    LW    Pustin, Mark
17    D    Grace, Mike
18    RW    Mosey, Charles
21    RW    Bahm, Linden
22    D    Ilisko, Alberts
24    C    Thomas, Leo
27    LW    Bellamy, Corey
30    G    Grogan, Matt
35    G    Di Salvo, Peter
74    RW    Harrington, Matt
82    D    Boyle, Tim
89    RW    Beer, Matt

Around the SPHL

6:30PM – Knoxville Ice Bears @ Macon Mayhem
6:30PM – Huntsville Havoc @ Columbus Cottonmouths
7:05PM – Pensacola Ice Flyers @ Peoria Rivermen
Fayetteville FireAntz do not play tonight.

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