The SPHL kicked off Thanksgiving week with a pair of exciting Tuesday night games. The Huntsville Havoc and Mississippi RiverKings had a shootout in Southaven, and the slumping Knoxville Ice Bears hoped to come out of hibernation against the last-place Columbus Cottonmouths.
The action continues tonight with the Louisiana IceGators traveling to Pensacola to get a little early Thanksgiving dinner with the Ice Flyers. Tomorrow, there will be no football in Rocket City as the Huntsville Havoc host the Ice Bears for some turkey day hockey.
Mississippi RiverKings 6, Huntsville Havoc 5
Mississippi goalie Matt Grogan put his perfect record and league leading 1.98 GAA on the line last night against Havoc netminder Kevin Genoe in Southaven last night.
Despite the promise of a quality goalie battle, the shooters ruled the night as the RiverKings and Havoc combined for 67 shots, 11 goals, and a pair of hat tricks. Havoc winger Jason Popek lit the lamp four times in his first professional hat trick, but his RiverKings counterpart Mark Pustin would respond with a hatty of his own, including the game winner with 7:23 remaining in the third period in a 6-5 barn-burner at the Landers Center. Pustin now leads the SPHL in goals with nine.
Grogan would keep his record spotless at 4-0-0, but dropped to 8th as his GAA rose to 2.74. Mississippi will stay atop the league standings with their third win in a row at 8-2-0, and Huntsville stays in 5th with a 6-5-0 record.
Columbus Cottonmouths 6, Knoxville Ice Bears 4
The Cottonmouths win their third game out of their last four as winger Tyler Henry notches his fourth and fifth goals of the season, defeating the slumping Ice Bears. Knoxville netminder Braely Torris started for the Bears, but left the game after the first period after surrendering three goals to the Snakes. Brandon Jaeger took 52 shots from Knoxville, making 48 saves for Columbus as he improved his record to 3-2-0.
The Ice Bears are now mired in a five-game losing streak, as the defending champions drop to seventh in the standings. Columbus’ latest win puts them on the brink of moving out of the league’s basement as they improve to 3-5-3 on the season.
Tonight’s Game: Louisiana IceGators (4-4-2) at Pensacola Ice Flyers (6-3-1)
- Second meeting between the teams. Pensacola won the first game, 5-4, on October 30th in Pensacola.
- Louisiana netminder Adam Courchaine will make his 10th start of the season, and has appeared in every IceGators game this season.
- The IceGators waived goaltender Jonah Imoo, and signed former Ice Flyers goalie Eric Levine.
- Pensacola traded the rights to defenseman Mike Kavanagh for IceGators forward Stephen Buco.
- Pensacola forward Joe Caveney has a four-game goal scoring streak, and Corey Banfield has scored at least a point in eight straight games.
- Ice Flyers winger Corey Banfield is tied for the league scoring lead with 13 points (5G, 8A)
- IceGators forwards Johnny Daniels, Dylan Hood, and Blake Hietala are among the SPHL’s top five in shooting percentage.
- Pensacola is 3-1-0 at home, while Louisiana is 3-2-0 on the road.
- The IceGators are the only team to have not scored a 5-on-4 power play goal this season.
Thursday’s Game: Knoxville Ice Bears (4-6-2) at Huntsville Havoc (6-5-0)
- The Havoc and Ice Bears meet for the third time this season. Huntsville has won both previous meetings.
- Havoc blueliner Stuart Stefan is tied for the league scoring lead among defensemen with eight points (1G, 7A)
- Huntsville’s Steve Mele has returned to the team following a call-up to ECHL Norfolk.
- The Ice Bears lead the league in short-handed goals with three.
- The Havoc and the Ice Bears have scored the most first period goals with 12.
- Knoxville forward Bret Peppler has the lowest plus/minus rating in the league with a -13.
- Pensacola @ Fayetteville, 7:05 ET
- Louisiana @ Columbus, 7:30 ET
- Mississippi @ Knoxville, 7:35 ET
- Macon @ Peoria, 7:05 CT