Today we recap the action from Week 3 of the SPHL season. We’ll take a look at the Rivermen’s first big road trip of the season, Fayetteville’s hot start, a chippy series at the beach, and the IceGators stumbling in their home opener.
Columbus Cottonmouths (0-3-2)
Last week: 0-0-1. The Snakes slithered to Southaven to avenge a 6-3 drubbing at the hands of the Mississippi RiverKings. The Cottonmouths’ Chris Rial forced overtime with a late third period tally, but the Kings’ Reid Campbell scored a minute into the extra frame to give Mississippi the 3-2 overtime win.
This week: Tuesday, 11/10, vs Macon; Friday, 11/13, at Huntsville; Sunday, 11/15, at Huntsville
The Snakes brought in some offensive reinforcements with the signings of forwards Adam Chapman and John Jackson. Chapman contributed immediately with Columbus’ first goal on Saturday against the RiverKings. Goalie Shannon Szabados had her first quality start of the season, getting 32 saves on 35 shots. Despite going winless in their first five games, there’s no sign of anyone pushing the panic button.
Fayetteville FireAntz (4-0-0)
Last week: 2-0-0. Fayetteville swept a weekend series with the Huntsville Havoc, winning 5-3 on Friday night and 3-2 on Saturday.
This week: The FireAntz defend the SPHL Title Belt Saturday, 11/14 at Louisiana; and Sunday, 11/15 at Louisiana
Zac Frischmon, just signed before the Antz’ first game against Huntsville, was huge this weekend. Frischmon scored two goals and an assist on Friday, then added another goal on Saturday as the FireAntz powered their way past the Havoc in a very chippy weekend series. Goalie Sean Bonar was tested often by Huntsville, and he responded with 69 saves on 74 shots over the weekend.
Huntsville Havoc (2-3-0)
Last week: 0-2-0. Huntsville was swept by the FireAntz in Fayetteville. The Havoc lost 5-3 on Friday, and 3-2 on Saturday.
This week: Tuesday, 11/10 vs Knoxville; Friday, 11/13 vs Columbus.
The Havoc let penalties get the better of them over the weekend against the FireAntz, despite an outstanding scoring effort from Steve Mele. Zach Josepher, with his second team in as many weeks, got ejected from Friday’s game for a major kneeing penalty. On Monday, the SPHL dropped the hammer on Josepher and suspended the defenseman for six games. Huntsville racked up 92 penalty minutes over the weekend and gave up a pair of power play goals. Steve Mele was the lone bright spot for the Havoc, as he scored a power play goal, a shorthanded marker, and an additional helper on Friday.
Knoxville Ice Bears (3-2-0)
Last week: 1-1-0. The Ice Bears traveled to the beach for a pair of games with the Pensacola Ice Flyers over the weekend. The two teams traded wins, with Pensacola getting the upper hand Friday with a 5-2 win and the Ice Bears getting revenge with a 6-2 victory on Saturday.
This week: Tuesday, 11/10 at Huntsville; Friday, 11/13 vs Pensacola; Saturday, 11/14 at Peoria.
The goaltending battle in Knoxville may have taken a decided turn. Braely Torris got shelled for five goals in two periods of play on Friday night. Bryan Hince was flawless in relief, then put up a 28-save performance in a winning effort on Saturday. The Ice Bears welcomed back the recently signed Ben Power this weekend, and Power celebrated with a goal in Saturday’s game.
Defenseman Jason Price played in his 405th regular season SPHL game on Saturday, giving him the league record for most games played. Price has been in the league since the 2006-07 season, and has played for Columbus and Augusta in addition to the Ice Bears. Orrin Hergott, a former teammate of Price in Columbus, was the former record holder.
The Ice Bears announced a pair of notable additions recently. Center Ben Power re-joined the Ice Bears, and former SPHL all-star forward Todd Hosmer signed after being waived by the ECHL Wichita Thunder. Hosmer last played in the league with the Mississippi RiverKings in 2013-14, and led the league with 37 goals in only 40 games. Last season in Wichita, Hosmer scored 22 goals and 21 assists for the Thunder.
Louisiana IceGators (1-3-1)
Last week: 0-2-1. The IceGators were swept in their home opening series against the Peoria Rivermen. The Gators lost 3-1 on Thursday, 5-4 in overtime on Friday, and 3-2 on Saturday.
This week: The IceGators get their first shot at the SPHL Title Belt this season Saturday, 11/14 vs Fayetteville; and Sunday, 11/15 vs Fayetteville
Louisiana led for only 2:15 of the 181:14 minutes of hockey played this weekend. Jeremy Boyer was one of the lone bright spots for the Gators with two goals and an assist in the series with Peoria. Defensemen Jordan Ciccarello and Anthony Pisano both face league disciplinary action for their hits during the series. Ciccarello sat out Saturday’s game as a result of a charging penalty, and Pisano received a one-game suspension for a hard boarding hit from behind on Rivermen forward Dan Bremner in Saturday’s game. Three year ECHL player Dylan Hood was signed by the IceGators on a three-gamer before Saturday’s game, and scored a goal in the series finale.
Macon Mayhem (1-2-2)
Last week: 0-0-1. The Mayhem took to the road for the first time this season with a visit to Southaven, where they took the RiverKings to overtime before falling, 4-3.
This week: Tuesday, 11/10 at Columbus; Friday, 11/13 vs Mississippi; Saturday, 11/14 vs Pensacola; Sunday, 11/15 vs Columbus
The Mayhem had to come from two goals down as a result of Mississippi captain Leo Thomas’ hat trick. Daniel Gentzler and Lucas LaBelle scored to force overtime, but the RiverKings would prevail on Ryan Marcuz’s marker in the extra five minutes.
Mississippi RiverKings (5-1-0)
Last week: 3-0-0. Mississippi began the week early, defeating Peoria 2-1 on Tuesday. They completed their perfect week with a pair of overtime wins against Macon (4-3) and Columbus (3-2).
This week: Wednesday, 11/11 at Pensacola; Friday, 11/13 at Macon.
The RiverKings stayed atop the SPHL standings with a hat trick of wins this week, and captain Leo Thomas added a hatty of his own on Friday night against the Macon Mayhem. Goaltender Pete Di Salvo had a good week in net, making 56 saves on 59 shots in his two starts. Backup goaltender Matt Grogan earned himself a callup to the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears after his Friday night win over Macon.
Pensacola Ice Flyers (3-2-0)
Last week: (1-1-0). Pensacola split a hard-fought weekend series with the defending champion Knoxville Ice Bears. Pensacola won the Friday night opener, 5-2 and lost the Saturday rematch 6-2.
This week: Wednesday, 11/11 vs Mississippi; Friday, 11/13 at Knoxville; Saturday, 11/14 at Macon
It was Fight Night Friday in the series opener between Pensacola and Knoxville, as the 5-2 Ice Flyer victory got out of hand with a third period line brawl in front of Pensacola goalie Matt Zenzola – who got in on the action himself. On Saturday, Knoxville turned the tables and chased new Ice Flyers goalie Eric Levine with a trio of first period goals.
Peoria Rivermen (4-2-0)
Last week: (3-1-0). The Rivermen took a four-game/five-night road trip to Mississippi and Louisiana. Peoria dropped a 2-1 decision to the RiverKings on Tuesday night before sweeping the IceGators in a three-game series.
This week: Saturday, 11/14 vs Knoxville.
The Rivermen had trouble finding their power play in their Tuesday night game against the RiverKings, going 0-7 with the man advantage in their 2-1 loss in Southaven. Peoria wound up finding it in Lafayette, where the Rivs would score four power play goals in 15 opportunities – including one overtime game winner on Friday. Adam Stuart would have a stellar series against his former IceGators teammates, scoring two goals and two assists in his first trip to the Cajundome since his trade to Peoria. Defenseman Ben Woodley was released by the Rivermen today, after he lost a pair of fights on Thursday against Anthony Pisano and Tyler Barr. Woodley was benched for the Friday and Saturday games, and launched into a expletive-filled tirade outside the Cajundome after Friday night’s game.
Our Three Stars of the Week
★★★ – Adam Stuart, Center, Peoria Rivermen. Stuart found the scoresheet for the first time this season against his former team, scoring two goals and two assists against Louisiana.
★★ – Zac Frischmon, Forward, Fayetteville FireAntz. The newly-acquired Frischmon scored three goals and an assist this weekend.
★ – Leo Thomas, Center, Mississippi RiverKings. The Mississippi captain was brilliant in his game against Macon, getting his first hat trick of the season. Thomas would add an assist on Saturday against Columbus to complete his four-point weekend.
The Sin Bin’s Power Rankings
- Peoria Rivermen (4-2-0, LW: 1) – The Rivermen had a tough week on the road, and lived up to their expectations with a sweep of the IceGators.
- Mississippi RiverKings (5-1-0, LW: 2) – The Kings are rolling with a five-game winning streak, and are close to being the league’s top-ranked team.
- Fayetteville FireAntz (4-0-0, LW: 3) – Still the league’s only unbeaten team, the FireAntz have a two week road trip looming.
- Pensacola Ice Flyers (3-2-0, LW: 2) – David Segal makes his return to Knoxville this weekend. This should be an entertaining game to watch.
- Knoxville Ice Bears (3-2-0, LW: 5) – The return of Ben Power and the signing of former SPHL all-star Todd Hosmer from ECHL Wichita can make this team scary good.
- Huntsville Havoc (2-3-0, LW: 7) – The Havoc have talent – why are they committing so many penalties?
- Louisiana IceGators (1-4-1, LW: 6) – Louisiana had a chance to send a big message to the league, and let it slip away.
- Macon Mayhem (1-3-2, LW: 8) – Macon has a busy week ahead of them with a pair of difficult opponents in the RiverKings and Ice Flyers.
- Columbus Cottonmouths (0-4-2, LW: 9) – The Snakes were competitive against the RiverKings, but couldn’t seal the deal on the road.