Yesterday afternoon, the Columbus Cottonmouths team bus – en route to Peoria for a weekend series with the Peoria Rivermen – overturned after losing control on a wet, slippery interstate on-ramp and sliding down an embankment. Here’s what we know:

  • There were no life-threatening injuries suffered by any of the 24 Cottonmouths’ players and staff on the bus. Most of the players and staff were treated for bumps and bruises and released. Per the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, goaltender Brandon Jaeger and bus driver Wayne Allen were kept overnight for observation and treatment. Jaeger suffered a lower-body injury in the accident, and his future playing status is unknown.
  • The league postponed tonight’s scheduled game between the Cottonmouths and Rivermen. A make-up date has yet to be determined.
  • Kudos to first responders and the Peoria Rivermen organization for their quick and compassionate response. It is moments like this where we see how tightly knit the hockey family is.

For a brief period this week, Macon Mayhem goaltender Garrett Bartus became Lord of the Moose. Bartus, on an ECHL call-up with the Fort Wayne Komets, received the call from the AHL Manitoba Moose – the primary affiliate of the NHL Winnipeg Jets. Due to Tulsa Oilers (the Jets’ ECHL affiliate) netminder Jamie Phillips playing in the ECHL All-Star Game on Wednesday night, the Moose tapped the unaffiliated Komets to fill the roster spot left when Ondrej Pavelec was called up to the Jets. Bartus was on the Moose roster for Wednesday night’s game at the Texas Stars then sent back to Fort Wayne. Bartus is currently the ECHL’s sixth-ranked goalie with a 2.47 GAA and a 9-3-1 record with Fort Wayne.

Our mythical SPHL All-Star Team is beginning to take shape. After an unprecedented fan vote, Danny Cesarz of the Knoxville Ice Bears, Daniel Echeverri of the Macon Mayhem, and Mississippi RiverKings netminder Brad Barone were all selected to our second-annual squad. The SPHL does not have an actual all-star game, but over the next week, we will choose the remainder of this season’s team. Look for our individual all-star ballots to be published next week and a special episode of our Inside the SPHL Podcast where we make our final selections.

Tonight’s Games

Title Belt Game: Knoxville Ice Bears at Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs

  • The teams are playing for the seventh of eight times this season. The Ice Bears have won every game against the Rail Yard Dawgs this season.
  • Knoxville goaltender Brian Billett has been called up to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL. Dylan Wells (2-0-1, 3.26, .912) should get his first start of his career against Roanoke.
  • Roanoke defenseman Nick Schneider is third in scoring and second in assists among SPHL blueliners with 19 points (4G/15A).
  • The Ice Bears have the league’s best penalty kill at 90.4% along with a league-high six shorthanded goals scored.
  • Sin Bin Swami sez: Knoxville is better on the road than Roanoke is at home. Plus Knoxville is 8-0-1 in their last nine. The Rail Yard Dawgs won their last two at home which means they’re due to lose one. I like Knoxville on the road tonight

Pensacola Ice Flyers at Fayetteville FireAntz

  • Tonight is the fifth time and the third straight game the Flyers and Antz have played. The FireAntz have won three of the previous four. First game in Fayetteville this season.
  • Fayetteville goaltender Sean Bonar is projected to make his 11th straight start. Backup Alex Caffi left the team to play in Europe and did not make any in-game appearances.
  • Over the last five games, Pensacola winger Riley Spraggs has five goals and three assists.
  • With Macon’s Jordan Ruby in the ECHL, Bonar has the league’s best GAA with a 2.20
  • Sin Bin Swami sez: I only pick Pensacola over one team and that isn’t Fayetteville. I think Fayetteville still owes something more to Pensacola after last Friday.

Macon Mayhem at Huntsville Havoc

  • The SPHL’s top two teams face off for the first time this season. Huntsville leads the all-time series 31-21-3. Eighth straight road game for the Mayhem.
  • Last week was the first time the Mayhem have lost two straight games this season.
  • The Mayhem have been hit hard by ECHL callups, but some of the boys are returning. Daniel Gentzler, Ryan Michel, and Brandon Pfeil have all returned from call-ups this week. Today, the South Carolina Stingrays have released goaltender Jordan Ruby. Ruby defeated the Atlanta Gladiators, making 18/19 saves in his only ECHL appearance this season.
  • Havoc defenseman Andy Willigar has had a hot hand since being signed on January 2nd. Willigar has scored three goals (all on the power play) with three assists in five game appearances.
  • An unlikely pair has been lighting the lamp for the Mayhem lately. Dennis Sicard and Stathis Soumelidis are leading Macon over the past ten games with a combined 16 points (7G/9A).
  • Sin Bin Swami sez: Huntsville lost two out of their last three – to Evansville and Knoxville. Macon had a bad weekend in Peoria. I think Huntsville is trending towards human and Macon is still a good hockey team. I like Macon in this one.

Mississippi RiverKings at Evansville Thunderbolts

  • Tonight is the fourth meeting between the teams this season. The RiverKings lead the series with a 2-0-1 record. Two of the games have been decided by overtime or in a shootout.
  • Today, the RiverKings announce the return of leading goal scorer Mike Moran and point leader Cullen Bradshaw. Moran was with the Atlanta Gladiators and Bradshaw spent time with the Adirondack Thunder. The Thunder hosted this year’s ECHL All-Star Game and Bradshaw scored an assist against the ECHL’s top players.
  • Some streaks on the line tonight. Moran has a season-high six-game goal scoring streak and Evansville’s Justin MacDonald has points in a league-best 11 straight contests.
  • As our Mike Finazzo is likely to say… The RiverKings have not won on a Friday night since a 4-3 win in Southaven against the Havoc on December 9th.
  • Sin Bin Swami sez: Mississippi hasn’t won on a Friday since the Grand Canyon was a pot hole. I’m sick of picking them to win. Plus Evansville has been playing like a .500 team and lost their last game. I have the Bolts for the win tonight.
    And finally… I know there’s no game, but I’m taking Columbus tonight. Stick taps in their direction and victory is theirs for everyone keeping their head yesterday.

Tomorrow’s Games

  • Pensacola at Fayetteville – 7:30 ET
  • Knoxville at Macon – 7:35 ET
  • Roanoke at Huntsville – 7:00 CT
  • Columbus at Peoria – 7:05 CT
  • Evansville at Mississippi – 7:30 CT

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