WINSTON-SALEM, NC — Some might be wondering why in the world a guy named James Gentry is writing the SPHL Gamenight article this week….and rightfully so! Mike Campos, the SPHL go-to guy for The Sin Bin, is getting married this weekend, so he has passed the chore…. I mean privilege and honor of writing this week’s version of SPHL Gamenight along to me. As I drink my coffee and stay warm in this suddenly chilly weather, I wish nothing but the best to Campos and his new bride. Congrats!
Speaking of cold, the fourth week of the SPHL season brings some teams that have struggled to start the season. The expansion Birmingham Bulls are still searching for their first win of the season. Second-year franchise Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs have only one win on the season so far and are searching for consistency and wins as well. The Dawgs shouldn’t feel too bad though, as the defending President’s Cup champion Macon Mayhem are off to a rough start this season also, sporting a record of 2-4-1 after their loss Thursday night to another second-year franchise, the Evansville Thunderbolts.
Breaking the cold theme we have going, the Thunderbolts seem to have figured it out this season so far and are off to a hot start currently sitting at 4-2-1. Nobody is hotter though than the Pensacola Ice Flyers, currently undefeated heading into action tonight. Coached by SPHL veteran coach Jeff Bes, the Ice Flyers seem to be the team to beat. Interestingly enough, Bes was the coach of the Fayetteville FireAntz last season, now named the Fayetteville Marksmen, and the Marksmen come for a visit to the Hangar this weekend. Even more interesting, Bes will not be behind the bench due to a five-game suspension for roster violations. Confused yet?
Anyways, let’s get to the action tonight and talk about the full slate of games in the SPHL.
Mississippi Riverkings @ Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs 7:05 PM EST
- Mississippi and Roanoke faced each other five times last season, with Roanoke taking three of those contests.
- The home team won all but one of the games played when these teams faced each other last season.
- Both teams have a balanced scoring attack, with no single player standing out in the points column.
- Roanoke has converted almost 20% of their PP chances while Mississippi has converted only 13%.
- @SinBinSwami sez: The home team had the upper hand when these teams faced last season. However, this is a different season….Mississippi 4 Roanoke 3 OT
Peoria Rivermen @ Knoxville Ice Bears 7:35 PM EST
- Knoxville enters this contest with a 4-1 record while Peoria comes in with a 3-3 record.
- This is the battle of an experienced team and Jean-Guy Trudel‘s Rivermen and the rookie coach Jeff Carr and young team of the Ice Bears
- Knoxville is a tough rink to play for visiting teams. However, Peoria garnered two wins in three games on Knoxville’s ice last season
- Knoxville’s Danny Cesarz has seven points (3 G, 4 A) so far this season
- Peoria’s veteran defenseman Dave Pszenyczny has seven points as well on the season leading the Rivermen
- @SinBinSwami sez: In a battle of experience versus youth, the experience wins out in this one….Peoria 5 Knoxville 2
Evansville Thunderbolts @ Macon Mayhem 7:35 PM EST
- The Thunderbolts defeated the Mayhem 4-2 last night.
- The defending champion Mayhem bring plenty of players back from last year’s team that won it all
- The Thunderbolts have done the same things as their roster looks similar to last season’s roster
- While the Mayhem brought Troy Passingham back to man the net, the Thunderbolts have new goaltenders this season in Jonah Imoo and Thomas Sholl, who was cut by the Mayhem earlier this season.
- The Mayhem won all four contests last season….Thunderbolts won the 1st meeting this season.
- @SinBinSwami sez: The Mayhem look for revenge and Passingham backstops the team leading them to do just that….Macon 4 Evansville 2
Fayetteville Marksmen @ Pensacola Ice Flyers 7:05 PM CST
- This game has all kinds of storylines to follow
- New coach Nick Mazzolini brings his team to face the old bench boss of Fayetteville in Jeff Bes
- Bes is serving a suspension for roster violations
- Last year’s MVP and Goalie of the Year Sean Bonar has not allowed a goal in the SPHL this season and should be back in Pensacola after a successful stint in ECHL Atlanta to face some of his old teammates
- Marksmen veteran center and captain Jake Hauswirth has 11 points in six games to start the season
- Marksmen goalie Matt Zenzola was a member of the Ice Flyers team that knocked Fayetteville out of the playoffs last season.
- @SinBinSwami sez: As I said, the storylines are interesting for this game, however, I am not sure the game is going to be as interesting for Marksmen fans….Ice Flyers continue their winning ways….Pensacola 5 Fayetteville 2
Huntsville Havoc @ Birmingham Bulls 7:35 PM CST
- Birmingham searches for its first win of the season while Huntsville looks to rebound after a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of Pensacola last night
- Birmingham has plenty of players from the defunct Columbus Cottonmouths on their roster, thus being nicknamed the Birmingham Snakes
- So when looking at how the Snakes performed against the Havoc last season, it wasn’t pretty, as the Havoc won six of seven.
- Birmingham has only scored five goals in four games while Huntsville has scored 23 goals in five games
- @SinBinSwami sez: Birmingham has its work cut out and just don’t have the offense to keep up with the high scoring Havoc squad….Huntsville 6 Birmingham 2
- Mississippi Riverkings @ Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs 7:05 PM EST
- Birmingham Bulls @ Macon Mayhem 7:35 PM EST
- Fayetteville Marksmen @ Pensacola Ice Flyers 7:05 PM CST
- Knoxville Ice Bears @ Peoria Rivermen 7:15 PM CST