LAFAYETTE, La. — It’s the final week of the regular season in the Southern Professional Hockey League and our field of eight was finalized last weekend. The Mississippi RiverKings and Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs filled out the SPHL’s postseason grid. Not many questions remain to be answered before Sunday’s night’s Challenge Round Show from Huntsville. Let’s go with what we know so far.
Join Matt Harding, the Fayetteville Marksmen’s Ben Garrod, and myself as we preview the SPHL Challenge Round and give our post-show reactions. We’ll air LIVE on our Facebook page (facebook.com/sinbinsphl) at 6:00 pm CT for the preview show and approximately 7:30 pm CT for the post-show reactions and preview the first-round matchups.
After our shameless plug, the Peoria Rivermen are on the clock. Last Friday, the Rivermen made it official and clinched their third William B. Coffey Cup in the last four years and will make the first pick in Sunday’s Challenge Round.
Next, the Macon Mayhem are currently in control of the second Challenge Round pick. Macon beat Pensacola last night, 4-2, to move into a tie for second place in the SPHL standings. Since Macon’s Thursday night win gives them the season series win against the Ice Flyers, the Mayhem own the tiebreaker against Pensacola.
Speaking of Pensacola, should their first-round series go to a decisive third game, it will be played at the Pelham Civic Center. A cheerleading competition at the Pensacola Bay Center next weekend will keep the Ice Flyers out of their barn. Stick taps to the Bay Center management for their excellent event planning.
Huntsville can still finish as high as second in the standings, but they will need a ton of help to do so. The Havoc must win out, while Macon and Pensacola must lose out – in regulation. Should Huntsville get two points this weekend, they secure home ice in the first round.
The Knoxville Ice Bears can finish no worse than fifth in the standings but can jump into fourth with a bit of assistance. If Knoxville wins out and the Havoc falter and come away with no more than a single overtime loss this weekend, the Ice Bears gain home ice.
Moving down the bracket, the Evansville Thunderbolts cannot move higher than sixth. Should the Bolts lose on Saturday and Sunday and the Mississippi RiverKings win both of their remaining games, then the Kings and Thunderbolts swap positions.
Finally, at the bottom of the list remain the RiverKings and Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs. A single win by Mississippi this weekend will keep the Dawgs in the eighth position.
The Rail Yard Dawgs will play their first-round game at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. The Berglund Center is hosting the Pro Bull Riders Tour and will be without ice until after next weekend.
Earlier, I mentioned Evansville playing on Sunday. The Evansville/Fayetteville game scheduled for Friday night will be played on Sunday due to transportation issues for the Marksmen. The Bolts will have a day less rest than their Challenge Round opponent because of the snafu.
In a Nutshell
- Birmingham Bulls
- Fayetteville Marksmen
- Everyone Else
Our Challenge Round Predictions
- Peoria vs Evansville
- Macon vs Knoxville
- Pensacola vs Mississippi
- Huntsville vs Roanoke
Challenge Round Magic Numbers
- Macon – 1
- Pensacola – 1
Sprint for the Swider – SPHL Scoring Title
- Berkley Scott – Knoxville: 68 points
- Jake Trask – Macon: 66 points