LAFAYETTE, LA — It wasn’t easy, but the Evansville Thunderbolts finally got their first win of the season last night. The Bolts cruised to a 3-1 lead after two periods against their fellow expansion Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs at the Berglund center, highlighted by a beautifully executed tic-tac-toe goal between Brad CuznerBrad Bourke finding Ryan Patsch in front of an open net. The Bolts proceeded to blow their two-goal lead in the third period. The Dawgs broke loose for three goals in the final frame on the strength of two Bryan Dallaire goals. Evansville survived an overtime onslaught by the Dawgs before Josh Harris goes 2-for-2 in an eight-round shootout to finally get out of the winless column with a 5-4 victory. Congratulations to owner Mike Hall, coach Jeff Pyle, and the rest of the Thunderbolts organization for your first SPHL win.

Roanoke and Evansville will meet again Saturday night at the Berglund Center for our SPHL Game of the Week. Saturday’s game will the final time the teams will meet in the regular season.

The Peoria Rivermen have survived a tumultuous beginning to their season with a 4-3-1 record. After serving an eight-game suspension going back to Game 3 of last season’s President’s Cup Final for physical abuse of officials in a post-game confrontation, defenseman Dave Pszenyczny returns to the Rivs. Pszenyczny, a long-time ECHL blueliner, scored 11 goals and 16 assists with a +16 rating in his first SPHL season. The return of Chezy comes at a steep cost, however. Due to the league’s veteran rule, Peoria had to part ways with Dan Bremner. The former Peoria captain was playing in his third season with the Rivermen and his sixth SPHL season before being released last week.

A pair of players took call-ups to the ECHL this week. Pensacola Ice Flyers goaltender Drew Fielding appeared in 31 games last season between the Brampton Beast and Adirondack Thunder. Fielding took a call-up to the Reading Royals after Martin Ouellette was recalled to the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Fielding was 0-2-1 with Pensacola with a 3.09 GAA and a .902 SV%.

Mississippi RiverKings defenseman Joe Sova is heading back to the ECHL, taking a call-up to the Fort Wayne Komets. The sixth-year veteran started the season with Peoria before being traded to the RiverKings a couple of weeks ago. Sova appeared in nine SPHL games this season – seven with the Rivermen – scoring a goal with four assists.

Have you listened to our podcast? Each week, Managing Editor Matthew Harding joins me as we talk about all of the happenings around the Southern Professional Hockey League on our Inside the SPHL Podcast. You can subscribe to all of our podcasts on iTunes or on Google Play and listen to episodes on your computer or mobile device.

Tonight’s Games

Macon Mayhem at Fayetteville FireAntz

  • Tonight’s meeting is the 100th game between the Fayetteville FireAntz and the Macon Mayhem franchise. The series goes back to the 2005-06 season when the Mayhem were originally the Pee Dee Cyclones, then the Twin City Cyclones, and the Augusta RiverHawks prior to relocating to Macon. The FireAntz lead the all-time series, 57-34-8.
  • The teams faced each other ten times last season, with each club winning five games. The FireAntz hold the edge in points with a 5-4-1 record to Macon’s 5-5-0.
  • The FireAntz have lost five games in regulation for the first time since January 7-13, 2006.
  • On the road, the Mayhem have the league’s top power play at 43.8%, scoring seven goals in 16 opportunities.
  • Fayetteville is second in the SPHL in shots allowed at 26.25 SOG/game.

Peoria Rivermen at Knoxville Ice Bears

  • First meeting between the teams this season. The Rivermen dominated last season’s series with a 5-0-1 record. Peoria also owns an 18-2-2 overall series mark.
  • The Rivermen signed former QMJHL goal-scoring champ Maxime St-Cyr to a three-game tryout contract yesterday. St-Cyr scored 54 goals with Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the 2014-15 season.
  • The Ice Bears are the SPHL’s most penalized team, averaging 32.5 PIM/game. Fortunately, Knoxville has the league’s top penalty killing unit, allowing only four goals in 52 shorthanded situations and scoring two shorthanded goals.
  • Peoria center Jake Hauswirth is riding a five-game point scoring streak and a three-game assist streak.
  • Knoxville does most of their damage at the end of games, outscoring opponents 15-5 in the third period.

Saturday’s Games

  • Title Belt Game: Peoria at Huntsville – 3:00 CT
  • Evansville at Roanoke – 7:05 ET
  • Mississippi at Columbus – 7:30 ET

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