From all of us at The Sin Bin to all of you and your families, we hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
The busiest person in the league over the past several days was Fayetteville FireAntz coach Jeff Bes. The Antz, who just broke a six-game regulation losing streak last Sunday against the Evansville Thunderbolts, needed a jolt to their lineup. In this case, Bes opted for the full roster makeover in a series of trades with the Thunderbolts, the Knoxville Ice Bears, and the Peoria Rivermen.
First, Bes made a deal with Ice Bears coach Mike Craigen for Adam Stuart, one of Bes’ former players from his time as coach of the Mississippi Surge. The swap included 21-goal-scorer Joe Manno as the Ice Bears trimmed their roster of their fourth veteran.
The Stuart deal apparently got the attention of Peoria’s Jean-Guy Trudel, another coach with veteran cap problems. Trudel recently had to part ways with team captain Dan Bremner with the return of veteran defenseman Dave Pszenyczny from his carry-over suspension from last season’s playoffs. Trudel apparently gave Bes an offer the Antz coach couldn’t refuse – defenseman Mark Corbett and center Jake Hauswirth – and within 24 hours of being acquired by Bes, Stuart was on his way back to the Rivermen. The return of Stuart to Peoria, with several fewer pro games played than Hauswirth, gave Trudel the flexibility to re-sign Bremner and still stay under the 1,100 game veteran cap.
Bes wasn’t done dealing, however. The day after the deal with Trudel, Bes sends defensemen Vytal Cote and Josh Elmes along with winger Stephon Thorne to Jeff Pyle’s Thunderbolts for Stephen Hoshaw – a talented defenseman Bes lost in the expansion draft to Evansville.
Finally, the signing of former SUNY-Oswego netminder Andrew Hare to replace the ineffective James Kruger, and tonight’s FireAntz is far different from Bes’ team a couple of weeks ago. The wholesale roster shuffling worked great for Trudel’s Rivermen after a disastrous start, perhaps it will all click for Bes and his FireAntz. The new-look Fayetteville club will get their first big test tonight in Macon against the red-hot Macon Mayhem – winners of their last eight games.
Title Belt Game: Mississippi RiverKings at Columbus Cottonmouths
- The RiverKings make their first Title Belt defense after taking it from the Rivermen on Sunday afternoon.
- Mississippi took the first game of the season series last week, a 2-1 win in Columbus.
- Cottonmouths’ goaltender Lukas Hafner is the current SPHL leader in GAA (1.76) and SV% (.943) – Hafner will not be in action tonight… He just took a call-up to the ECHL Alaska Aces.
- In Hafner’s absense, Brandon Jaeger gets the start for Columbus. Jaeger’s backup will be none other than Cottonmouths’ legend Ian Vigier.
- The Snakes are a mixed bag on special teams on home ice. Columbus has the top penalty kill at home at 91.7%, has not scored a power play goal in 12 attempts, and allowed two shorthanded goals.
- Mississippi’s Mike Moran has goals scored in two straight games.
Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs at Knoxville Ice Bears
- The Dawgs are looking for their first win in four tries against Knoxville. The Ice Bears have outscored Roanoke, 15-8, over the previous three games.
- Knoxville’s Danny Cesarz leads all scorers in games between the teams with five points – all assists. Cesarz leads the SPHL in assists with 13.
- Roanoke netminder Ryan de Melo has shouldered the load with Brandon Anderson on the 14-day IR. Unfortunately, de Melo is 0-2-2 over his last four games with a 3.65 GAA and .890 SV%. Anderson cannot come off of IR before next weekend’s games.
- Tonight’s game could be a special teams bonanza for Knoxville. The Ice Bears are 29.4% with the extra man at home, while Roanoke has a league-low 75.0% penalty kill conversion rate on the road.
Fayetteville FireAntz at Macon Mayhem
- Last weekend the Mayhem defeated the FireAntz, 5-3, at the Crown. Tonight’s match shifts to the Macon Coliseum for the second meeting between the teams this season.
- The FireAntz unveil a revamped lineup after a series of trades this week. New players include veteran center Jake Hauswirth, former FireAntz blueliner Steven Hoshaw, and former Peoria defenseman Mark Corbett.
- The Macon Mayhem have a new high-scoring combination this season with center John Siemer and winger Collin MacDonald. The two top-scoring players in the league have combined for 17 points (8G/9A) over the past five games.
- Fayetteville’s Tayler Thompson has a three-game assist streak.
Pensacola Ice Flyers at Huntsville Havoc
- Two weeks ago, the Ice Flyers took the Havoc to the shootout, but Justin Tateson‘s shootout winner gave the Havoc a 3-2 win.
- The Ice Flyers are still searching for an offensive identity after the loss of many key players from last season’s President’s Cup championship team. Postseason hero Josh Cousineau, former scoring leader Corey Banfield, and rookie winger Austin McKay lead the Flyers in goals with three.
- SPHL goal-scoring leader Lou Educate of Huntsville has four goals in the Havoc’s last five games.
- The Havoc are the least penalized team in the SPHL, but special teams may not be a factor for Pensacola. The Ice Flyers have yet to score on the power play on the road this season.
Evansville Thunderbolts at Peoria Rivermen
- The teams first met this season at the Ford Center at the beginning of the month, resulting in a 5-1 victory for the Rivermen. Tonight is the first time the Thunderbolts visit Carver Arena.
- Maxime St-Cyr scored three goals and three assists in his first three-game contract with the Rivermen. St-Cyr returns for another three-game stint with Peoria.
- Defenseman Brad Bourke has been the leading scorer for the Thunderbolts over the past five games. Bourke has a goal and four assists during this span.
- Rivermen netminder Tyler Green is in a bit of a slump. Green is 1-1-1 in his past three starts and has allowed four goals in each game.
- Roanoke at Fayetteville – 7:30 ET
- Columbus at Macon – 7:35 ET
- Huntsville at Pensacola – 7:05 CT
- Evansville at Peoria – 7:05 CT
- Knoxville at Mississippi – 7:30 CT