Night one of the 2016 President’s Cup Playoffs is in the books and it was a thrilling opening night. The regular-season champs are on the ropes, while the Louisiana IceGators could be booking tee times after tonight’s action.
Macon Stuns Peoria, 3-2, in Series Opener
If the Peoria Rivermen are the supermen of the SPHL, then Shawn Skelly and Garrett Bartus are their kryptonite. Skelly. the crafty Macon Mayhem winger had a hand in all three Mayhem goals and Bartus made 41 saves as Macon, the SPHL’s eighth-seeded team topped the team with the league’s record-setting regular season at the Macon Centroplex, 3-2.
Peoria, however, was the team which drew first blood in the series as Cody Dion capitalized on a Nick Kuqali slashing call 9:07 into the game. Macon would score the next two goals – Jackson Brewer drove home the equalizer from the right side with 4:21 remaining in the opening frame, and Skelly would give the Mayhem their first lead of the game at the 6:46 mark of the second period. Less than 90 seconds later, Peoria would re-tie the game on a Dave Pszenyczny shot 8:08 into the middle frame.
Late in the second period, a former Rivermen player would come to haunt his former team. Jake Trask, with assists from Mark Rivera and Skelly, gave the Mayhem the lead with 1:15 remaining in the second period. Macon then leaned on Bartus and their defense the rest of the way, with the ace tendy making a dozen third-period saves to preserve the upset victory.
The series shifts to Peoria for the remainder of the series. Rather than playing in Carver Arena, the games will be played at the Owens Center, the Rivermen’s practice rink.
RiverKings Roll, 5-3, Against IceGators
The Mississippi RiverKings needed a wake-up call early hosting the Louisiana IceGators last night at Landers Center. The Kings received it in an unlikely way, as Louisiana forward Matt Robertson sent the puck around the near-side boards. Instead of wrapping around the boards, the puck bounced in front of the short-side post. With RiverKings goalie Peter Di Salvo looking the wrong way, Louisiana winger Johnny Daniels scored on the easy tip-in at 11:35 into the game.
The RiverKings would proceed to dominate the next 40 minutes of play. Devin Mantha quickly scored the equalizer 37 seconds after Daniels’ goal, then Mississippi blueliner Tim Boyle gave the Kings the lead before the home crowd could get back into their seats. Mantha notched his second goal just a little more than a minute into a second period which the RiverKings would out-shoot the IceGators, 14-2. One of those Louisiana shots, however, found its way into the net on Zac Frischmon‘s power play goal at the 10:25 mark of the middle frame. Mississippi would put the game on ice in the third period with tallies by rookie defenseman Richard Coyne and veteran winger Todd Hosmer.
The series shifts south to Lafayette, with the teams facing off at 7:05 tonight at the Cajundome. The IceGators look to avoid being the first team eliminated from the President’s Cup Playoffs.