Most SPHL fans will be out trick-or-treating on Halloween rather than ghouling it up at the rink.
Most of this week’s six games will be played on Friday night, with only the Macon Mayhem and the Columbus Cottonmouths on October 31st. A rare Tuesday night game between the Peoria Rivermen and the Mississippi RiverKings will wrap up the league’s second week of play. Inside the SPHL will take you around the league and bring you the latest headlines.
The Snakes will try to rebound from their slow start with a pair of games in week two. Friday night, Columbus will host the RiverKings for the first time this season. The two teams played five times last season with the Cottonmouths winning three times. On Halloween, the Snakes will go looking for treats in Macon for the first of eight games between the teams. The Snakes waive Joel Danyluk and return Brandon Jaeger from their training camp roster. Also signed is forward Andy Bathgate, with defenseman Ryan Devine getting released.
Earlier this week, the FireAntz made the first big trade of the regular season. Fan favorite John Clewlow, who played 155 games in Fayetteville, was traded to the Pensacola Ice Flyers for forward Nick Lazorko. Lazorko should give the FireAntz a bigger body in the middle along with some flexibility on the left side. The rights to defenseman Mike Kavanagh, currently with the ECHL Evansville IceMen, was also transferred to the Ice Flyers. Fayetteville wasn’t done with just one trade, however. The Antz also acquired defenseman Brad Bourke from the Louisiana IceGators for future considerations. The FireAntz will host the Knoxville Ice Bears on Friday night in both teams’ only action for the week.
The Rivalry of Ruin begins Friday night with the first-ever game between the Havoc and the Macon Mayhem. Huntsville bolstered their forward line this week with the acquisition of forward Steve Mele. Mele, formerly with the Cottonmouths a couple of seasons ago, spent last season in the ECHL splitting his time between the Tulsa Oilers and the Kalamazoo Wings. Forward Sean Poitras was waived and defenseman Tyler MacPherson was released from his three-gamer to make room for Mele on the roster.
Knoxville Ice Bears
Forward Doug Reid’s hatty against the Columbus Cottonmouths earned him SPHL Easton player of the week honors. Coach Mike Craigen’s Ice Bears look to continue their winning ways when they travel to Fayetteville to face the FireAntz. Last season, Knoxville dominated the season series by getting 18 of a possible 22 points against Fayetteville. The road game against the FireAntz will be the team’s only action this week.
The IceGators remain on the road this week with the first of ten games against the Pensacola Ice Flyers. Last year, Louisiana won six of the 13 games played between the teams, and won 12 of 26 possible points. The Gators bring back two players who began the season in the ECHL. Forward Stephen Buco from the Adirondack Thunder and defenseman Mitch Stretch from the Elmira Jackals returned to Lafayette this week, and will be available to play against the Ice Flyers. The Gators placed forward Vlad Gavrik on the 30-day IR and traded defenseman Brad Bourke to Fayetteville for the rights to forward Corey Tamblyn, who is currently playing semi-pro Allan Cup Hockey in Canada.
The Mayhem began their inagural season at home, and they wowed the fans with a gritty performance against the defending champion Knoxville Ice Bears. Macon fell behind 2-0, but roared back in the second frame with four goals in a row to take a temporary two-goal lead. However, two goals in 45 seconds by the champs wound up bringing the game into overtime where the Ice Bears prevailed in a shootout. Macon had no answer for the RiverKings when they played on Saturday night, and lost their second game 4-1. Macon waived their lone remaining draft pick, Mark Corbett, for defenseman Ryan Michel from D3 Hobart (NY) College.
The RiverKings had a mixed bag in the opening week. On opening night, they couldn’t find their offense despite putting 31 shots on IceGators’ goalie Adam Courchaine. The following night, they lit up Macon for four goals. Mississippi waived defenseman Alberts Illisko during the week. The RiverKings play two games this weekend, traveling to Columbus on Friday before returning home for a Tuesday night game against Peoria.
Pensacola Ice Flyers
The Ice Flyers get a big offensive boost this week with the return of center Paul Rodrigues, who returned from the ECHL Greenville Swamp Rabbits this week. Rodrigues played most of last season in Greenville, putting up 19 points in 53 games with the then-named Road Warriors. Pensacola also acquired the services of former Fayetteville forward John Clewlow in a trade that sent Nick Lazorko to the FireAntz. In addition to the trade with Fayetteville, The Ice Flyers waived forward Patrick Divjak earlier this week. Pensacola hosts the IceGators on Friday night, where they hope to continue their winning ways against Louisiana. Defenseman Zack Josepher was given a two-game suspension for an elbowing penalty that led to his ejection during Friday’s game againt Peoria.
The quirky SPHL schedule gave the Rivermen a 10-day break after their hard-fought series against Pensacola on opening weekend. Peoria resumes play on Tuesday in Southaven against the RiverKings in a tough four game in five night trip to Mississippi and Louisiana. Goalie Chris Rawlings, who shut out the Ice Flyers on Saturday, was called up to the ECHL Utah Grizzlies. Dave Eminian from the Peoria Journal Star reports that Francois Brassard is returning to the Rivermen as Kyle Rank’s backup. Eminian also reports that Ben Warda, released from his three-gamer by Peoria, has signed to play in Europe. Dan Bremner earned himself a three-gamer of another sort, as the Rivermen captain was suspended three games for an elbowing incident against Pensacola on Saturday night.
This Week’s Games
Friday, October 30th
- Knoxville @ Fayetteville – 7:05 ET
- Mississippi @ Columbus – 7:30 ET
- Huntsville @ Macon – 7:30 ET
- Louisiana @ Pensacola – 7:05 CT
Saturday, October 31st
- Columbus @ Macon – 7:30 ET
Tuesday, November 3rd
- Peoria @ Mississippi – 7:05 CT
The Sin Bin’s Power Rankings
- Peoria Rivermen (1-1-0) – The Rivs played the Ice Flyers to a hard-fought draw last weekend. Giving the edge to Peoria, because of Saturday’s shutout.
- Pensacola Ice Flyers (1-1-0) – Had Pensacola put up a couple of goals on Saturday night, they may have made a case for the top spot.
- Knoxville Ice Bears (2-0-0) – The defending champs looked rather ordinary in their two victories.
- Louisiana IceGators (1-0-0) – One game is a small sample size, but the Gators were physically impressive against the RiverKings.
- Mississippi RiverKings (1-1-0) – Found their offense and their attitude on the road against the Mayhem.
- Columbus Cottonmouths (0-1-1) – Chin up, Columbus! The Snakes started slow last season, and they wound up finishing second.
- Fayetteville FireAntz (1-0-0) – Like Louisiana, a small sample size. Their first test is Friday when the Ice Bears come to town.
- Huntsville Havoc (1-1-0) – They’re a better team when they don’t get roped into penalty-fests.
- Macon Mayhem (0-1-1) – The new guys on the block were competitive, but it takes wins to move up.
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