HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — In a rare afternoon SPHL matinee, today’s contest between the Huntsville Havoc and Pensacola Ice Flyers was a match between being “battle-tested” and “well-rested.” The Havoc, playing their third game in as many days, battled through a game featuring wide momentum swings by both squads. This game, the Havoc would rely on their SPHL-best power play, converting on three of five attempts. However, the Flyers managed some late-game heroics to deny the Havoc a win in regulation.
Pensacola, on the ice for the first time since their 8-2 drubbing of Evansville a week ago, started the game flat after a long break and put off-guard as a result of Huntsville setting a physical tone early. After the opening five minutes, the Flyers began to shake off the cobwebs, proceeding to set the pace for the remainder of the period. Pensacola managed a pair of opening frame tallies by Jessyko Bernard and Trever Hertz. Both shots beat Havoc goaltender Mike DeLaVergne from between the circles from possessions deep in the Huntsville zone – never a good sign defensively when allowing passes from down low to the high slot area.
The second act of this match began in a similar manner to the predecessor. Again the Havoc managed to impose their will on Pensacola, 3:23 into the period, a cross-check by Tim Boyle sparked a shoving match between Boyle and Kyle Sharkey. With the Havoc and their top-ranked power play on the ice, the home team chipped away at the Flyers’ lead. Christian Powers’ aptly-named power play goal got the Havoc on the board.
Next, it was Shawn Bates’ turn to make an impact on the game. A healthy scratch last night in Knoxville, Bates took a shot from the right side of Gordon Defiel to tie up the game only 62 seconds after Powers’ marker. Less than a minute later, Ken Neil would sit for slashing and the Havoc special teams would strike again quickly. Huntsville would take the lead with their second power play goal in as many tries after Andy Willigar boomed a shot from the right point, and within three minutes of playing time, the Havoc were leading this contest.
Playing down a goal, the Ice Flyers spent the rest of the period on the offensive, getting nine of their twelve shots on net in this span. DeLaVergne managed to keep a clean slate in the middle frame and the Havoc – down two after one period – found themselves with a one-goal cushion after 40 minutes of action.
Special teams would again be a factor with the game yet to be decided. Pensacola would get their first power play of the game when Tyler Piacentini was called for tripping at the 6:51 mark of the third period. However, the Ice Flyers are the SPHL’s worst team when playing 5-on-4. Pensacola, however, found better luck playing with the odds evened up a bit at 4-on-4. With Alex Botten and Troy Vance both sitting in the boxes of their respective teams, defenseman Kyle Haines would get a rebound past DeLaVergne to tie the game. Once Botten’s penalty was over, the Havoc would bang home their third power play goal of the night thanks to former Ice Flyer Stephen Hrehoriak with 5:39 remaining in the game.
The late-game drama wasn’t over, however, and it was a player with a flair for showmanship who would provide bonus hockey for the crowd of 4,348. Josh Cousineau would send the game into overtime on his tally with 53 ticks remaining on the clock. After a scoreless bonus hockey period, the game would be decided by an old-fashioned netminder duel between DeLaVergne and Defiel in the shootout. In the fourth round of the talent competition, Defiel blinked, allowing Stuart Stefan to snap a shot past. DeLaVergne managed to stop all five Pensacola snipers and the Huntsville Havoc’s 5-4 shootout win took home a valuable two points in the crowded SPHL standings. The Ice Flyers remain atop the league standings with a 24-8-4 record – the only team to have not lost ten games in regulation this season. With a 2-1-0 record during their three-in-three stretch, the Havoc move into a temporary tie with the Knoxville Ice Bears, six points behind Pensacola in third place.
Three Stars of the Game
★ – Stephen Hrehoriak – Huntsville – Goal, Game-Tying Goal, 6 Shots
★★ – Trever Hertz – Pensacola – Goal, 2 Assists, +2
★★★ – Mike DeLaVergne – Huntsville – 40 Saves, 5/5 Saves in Shootout
|Pensacola – Jessyko Bernard (Charlie Adams) 9:16
Pensacola – Trever Hertz (Christian Weidauer) 18:00
|Huntsville – Christian Powers (power play) (Tyler Piacentini, Alex Botten) 4:41
Huntsville – Shawn Bates (Justin Fox, Tommy Tsicos) 5:43
Huntsville – Andy Willigar (power play) (Sy Nutkevitch, Alex Botten) 7:23
|Pensacola – Kyle Haines (Trever Hertz) 12:43
Huntsville – Stephen Hrehoriak (power play) (Derek Perl, Justin Fox) 14:21
Pensacola – Josh Cousineau (extra attacker) (Trever Hertz, Kyle Haines) 19:07
|Huntsville – Stuart Stefan|
|Pensacola – Tim Boyle – (Cross Checking), 2 MIN, 3:23
Pensacola – Tim Boyle – (Roughing), 2 MIN, 3:23
Huntsville – Kyle Sharkey – (Roughing), 2 MIN, 3:23
Pensacola – Ken Neil – (Slashing), 2 MIN, 6:38
Pensacola – Josh Cousineau – (Roughing), 2 MIN, 13:12
Pensacola – Josh Cousineau – (Roughing), 2 MIN, 13:12
Huntsville – Stuart Stefan – (Roughing), 2 MIN, 13:12
|Pensacola – Nathan Bruyere – (Interference), 2 MIN, 3:14
Huntsville – Tyler Piacentini – (Tripping), 2 MIN, 6:51
Pensacola – Garrett Milan – (Slashing), 2 MIN, 8:00
Huntsville – Peter Sikalis – (Roughing), 2 MIN, 8:00
Huntsville – Alex Botten – (High Sticking), 2 MIN, 10:50
Pensacola – Troy Vance – (High Sticking), 2 MIN, 12:30
|Huntsville – Stuart Stefan – (Slashing), 2 MIN, 3:16|