March Mania Kicks Into High Gear

March is the time of year when hockey begins to get really interesting, and the Southern Professional Hockey League is no exception.

Unless you’re the Peoria Rivermen, and already assured of a playoff berth. Yawn.

The SPHL regular season is like a group of nine guys in the forest, all being chased by a grizzly bear. The goal is simple – be at least the second-slowest runner. When the season ends five weeks from now, we’ll know who will vie for the President’s Cup in April and who will become grizzly grub.

Week 20 of the SPHL season got off to an early start with games on Wednesday and Thursday nights. On Wednesday night in the Cajundome, the Louisiana IceGators got off to a slow start against the Mississippi RiverKings. The Gators then proceeded to put on an offensive show as they chomped the Kings, 5-1. Last night at the KCAC, the Knoxville Ice Bears stumbled out of the gate as the visiting Fayetteville FireAntz took a 2-0 lead. The Bears would get in gear and score four unanswered goals to beat the Antz, 4-2.

Fayetteville FireAntz at Knoxville Ice Bears

  • Eighth game this season between the teams, and the second of three this weekend. Knoxville leads the series, 4-3-0.
  • The FireAntz are 5-8-1 since star goaltender Sean Bonar last took an ECHL callup on January 19th. Bonar has spent time this season with the Brampton Beast, Fort Wayne Komets, and is currently with the Wichita Thunder.
  • Former FireAntz forward Trever Hertz leads all Knoxville players in the season series with seven points (2G/5A). Hertz was traded last summer in a move which sent Berkley Scott, a four-year Ice Bear, to Fayetteville.
  • Knoxville defenseman Brad Pawlowski leads all SPHL blueliners in goals with eight.

Pensacola Ice Flyers at Peoria Rivermen

  • Third game this season. The last time the teams met was on opening weekend in Peoria, with the teams splitting the two-game series. The Rivermen make their only trip to Pensacola in two weeks.
  • Peoria’s Chris Wilson and Adam Stuart – former teammates in Louisiana – have scored a combined 17 goals and 10 assists over the past ten games. Currently, Wilson is riding an eight-game goal scoring streak – the longest such streak this season. Wilson’s streak tops Stuart’s seven-game tear in January.
  • The Ice Flyers are 5-0-0 on the road when leading after two periods.
  • Peoria has scored first in 31 of their 41 games, winning 26 of them.

Saturday’s Games

  • Mississippi at Huntsville – 2:00 CT
  • Macon at Columbus – 7:30 ET
  • Pensacola at Peoria – 7:05 CT

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