inside_the_sphl_podcast_sliderWelcome to our first in-season edition of Inside the SPHL! We’re humbled and privileged to bring you fans another season of SPHL action on The Sin Bin. So grateful, in fact, we’re expanding our SPHL coverage to include a PODCAST! That’s right, folks. TSB Managing Editor Matthew Harding and I will do a weekly show where we discuss all things SPHL, bring you some of the players and personalities across the league, and whatever else we can think of.  This week’s show will feature Huntsville Havoc winger Lou Educate, who put up five goals against the Peoria Rivermen on opening weekend. We were also going to have Rivermen netminder Shannon Szabados on the show, but…

We were also going to have Rivermen netminder Shannon Szabados on the show, but…

Goalies Shannon Szabados and Storm Phaneuf Released by Peoria

The first bit of news following the disastrous opening weekend in Carver Arena was the Peoria Rivermen’s announcement of parting ways with both Peoria netminders after the Rivs were outscored by the Havoc, 11-2. Storm Phaneuf, the opening night starter, gave up four goals in his professional debut before being relieved by Shannon Szabados. On Saturday night, Szabados gave up three goals on nine shots before getting the hook in the second period. Phaneuf allowed six goals on 22 shots, while Szabados giving up five on 19 shots. Rivermen coach Jean-Guy Trudel brought back goalies Tyler Green and Matt Grogan – netminders Trudel cut during a five-goalie training camp competition. “After our first two games, I thought our goaltending wasn’t good enough to compete, and changes had to be made,” said Trudel.

Forward Ian Harris was also released by Peoria on Monday. Harris, a rookie fresh out of junior hockey, had an assist on both of the Rivermen goals but racked up a -6 plus/minus rating for the weekend. Defenseman Carl Neilsen elected to leave the team and given an indefinite suspension by the team.

SPHL Rookie of the Year John Lidgett Returns to Huntsville

As if the Huntsville Havoc couldn’t get any more offensive firepower, the team formally announced the return of John Lidgett. The reigning league rookie of the year, Lidgett returned to Huntsville from the ECHL Alaska Aces. Last season, the Colgate Univerity product made a huge splash in the SPHL, scoring 15 goals and 27 assists for the Havoc. “I’m really excited to be back with the Havoc,” said Lidgett. “Last season was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to adding to what coach Detulleo and coach Kallechy are building here in Huntsville.”

The SPHL Gets Their First ECHL Callup

Given the amount of goaltending talent in the SPHL, it’s only fitting the first player taking an ECHL call-up is a netminder. Knoxville Ice Bears goalie Charles Grant heads to the Rapid City Rush after winning his first pro game with the Ice Bears, a 7-4 victory over the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs, on Saturday Night. Grant attended training camp with Rapid City, and with Rapid City losing a goaltender to AHL Tuscon, Rush coach Mark DeSantis called up Grant for a spell.

Quick Thoughts

  • The Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs are off to a great start. After a decade removed from pro hockey in the Roanoke Valley, the Dawgs drew a sellout crowd of 6,188 on opening night.
  • Special thanks to the Mississippi RiverKings and Evansville Thunderbolts for being gracious hosts on our 1,500-mile season-opening road trip. We’re grateful for all of your hospitality this weekend!
  • After uncharacteristic performances on opening night, Columbus Cottonmouths netminder Brandon Jaeger and his Macon Mayhem counterpart Garrett Bartus put on a goalie show on Saturday. Jaeger, the first-team all-rookie goaltender allowed only one goal on 32 shots. However, Bartus, the reigning SPHL Goalie of the Year, backstopped a 40-save shutout.
  • Speaking of great goaltending… Huntsville netminder Adam Courchaine loves playing in Peoria. Courchaine, 4-2 with the Louisiana Ice Gators in six games at Carver Arena, went 2-0 against the Rivermen last weekend, allowing one goal in each game.
  • The Pensacola Ice Flyers’ title defense got off to a slow start on opening weekend. The Fayetteville FireAntz swept the Flyers, with Pensacola able to salvage a shootout point. However, the most anticipated scrap of opening weekend – heavyweights Brandon Blair of Pensacola and Fayetteville’s Brad Drobot – happened. You can see the two arranging the scrap in the top left corner several seconds prior to the faceoff.

The Sin Bin SPHL Three Stars

★★★ – Garrett Bartus, Macon Mayhem – The SPHL Goalie of the Year was in top form Saturday night with a 40-save shutout of the Columbus Cottonmouths, out-dueling Brandon Jaeger in a 1-0 Mayhem victory.
★★ – Zach Carriveau, Huntsville Havoc – The defenseman, returning from a season-ending injury last season, Carriveau scores a goal with three assists at Peoria with a +5 plus/minus rating.
★ – Lou Educate, Huntsville Havoc – Educate (pronounced ed-yoo-cot-ay) lit up Peoria netminders for five goals over the weekend, including a natural hat trick on Saturday night.

Bonus ★ – The cities of Roanoke and Evansville – Welcome to the SPHL, and both cities had great turnouts for their respective home openers. The two newest SPHL teams meet at the palace in Evansville next weekend.

Next Week’s Games

Friday, October 29th

  • Title Belt Game: Huntsville at Knoxville
  • Pensacola at Columbus
  • Mississippi at Fayetteville
  • Peoria at Macon
  • Roanoke at Evansville

Saturday, October 30th

  • Title Belt Game: Knoxville at Huntsville
  • Mississippi at Fayetteville
  • Peoria at Macon
  • Columbus at Pensacola
  • Roanoke at Evansville

Tuesday, November 2nd

  • Peoria at Evansville