Unlike our bit of fun earlier today, the following article is fool-proof.
The Columbus Cottonmouths are still in control of their postseason destiny. However, their April aspirations could come to an end as soon as tomorrow night. Also in charge of their playoff push are the Snakes’ opponent tonight, the Macon Mayhem. Playing in their final regular season game thanks to the quirky SPHL scheduling, the Mayhem can punch their ticket to the President’s Cup Playoffs with a win tonight.
This week, longtime SPHL enforcer and agitator David Segal retired from the Pensacola Ice Flyers. Segal is part of a dying breed – the old-time style hockey player. Segal will be remembered as a fearless competitor, an excellent scrapper, a respected teammate, and a fan favorite – even in an opponent’s barn. We at The Sin Bin wish David Segal all the best in the future – and we hope he remains involved in hockey for years to come.
A footnote to the saga of the Peoria Civic Center continued this week, as the operators of the Peoria Civic Center responded to accusations in which they forced the Peoria Rivermen out of the venue for the first and second rounds of the SPHL Playoffs. In a statement, arena officials stated “In March and May 2015, the Peoria Civic Center management booked events in Carver Arena for April 14-23, 2016, months before we were notified in July 2015 that the SPHL regular season was to be extended. The extension of the regular season caused the SPHL playoffs to fall later in April than in previous years.”
The Civic Center’s statement partially holds up to scrutiny, as it is true the SPHL made the decision to extend the 2015-16 regular season over the summer, after the arena booked the events in question. However, if the SPHL had not extended this season into April, the scheduling conflict over the weekend of April 14th – Monster Jam – would have forced the Rivermen out of the Peoria Civic Center during the week of the President’s Cup Final.
Mississippi RiverKings (26-16-9) at Fayetteville FireAntz (28-21-3)
- Third of four regular season meetings. The FireAntz have won both previous games.
- Playoff importance – High. The FireAntz are one point out of securing home ice advantage in the first round, and the RiverKings are neck-and-neck with the Pensacola Ice Flyers in a race for the #2 seed for the playoffs and guaranteed home ice in the first and second rounds.
- In games between the teams, the FireAntz have outscored the RiverKings in the second period, 6-2.
- The RiverKings have brought back forward Devin Mantha from the ECHL to assist in their playoff run. Mantha has played 26 games for the Norfolk Admirals this season, scoring five goals and five assists.
Macon Mayhem (23-27-5) at Columbus Cottonmouths (18-25-8)
- Tonight’s game is the last of nine meetings this season. Macon has a 6-1-1 record in this season’s series.
- Playoff importance – Ridiculously High. The Cottonmouths are in do-or-die mode, and the Mayhem have the chance to secure a postseason berth in their final game of the regular season.
- Macon goalie Garrett Bartus has started each game of this series. Bartus leads the SPHL in most goaltending categories, including wins, losses, shutouts, saves, and save percentage.
- Special teams may be a big factor in tonight’s game. The Cottonmouths have the league lowest power play and penalty kill at home, and the Mayhem are second on the road in both power play and penalty kill.
Peoria Rivermen (36-12-3) at Knoxville Ice Bears (27-19-6)
- Fifth of six regular season meetings – The Rivermen have won all four previous games.
- Playoff importance – Moderate. Peoria have already secured home ice advantage throughout the President’s Cup Playoffs, but the Ice Bears are in a tight race to keep home ice advantage in the first round.
- With Peoria winger Chris Wilson still on the IR, Knoxville forward Zack LaRue is the highest active player in the series with five points (3G/2A)
- Peoria defenseman Dave Pszenyczny is the Rivs highest scoring player over the past five games with seven points (3G/4A).
Huntsville Havoc (24-24-4) at Pensacola Ice Flyers (29-19-4)
- Tonight’s game is the sixth of seven regular season meetings. Pensacola holds a 4-0-1 advantage in the series, with one victory coming via shootout.
- Playoff importance – Low. The Havoc are all but assured of a playoff berth, and are highly unlikely of gaining home ice advantage in the first round. The Ice Flyers have first round home ice secured, and are attempting to keep pace to secure the second playoff seed.
- The Ice Flyers’ John McLean will be likely getting a break soon. McLean has started 13 of the last 14 games in net for Pensacola. Today, the Ice Flyers announce Matt Zenzola has returned from this ECHL call-up with the Evansville IceMen. Zenzola appeared in 5 games for Evansville, going 2-3-0 with a 3.86 GAA and a .860 SV%.
- The SPHL’s top two scoring rookies are going head-to-head tonight. Huntsville’s John Lidgett (15-27-42) and Pensacola’s Stephen Buco (16-21-37) should be the two players deciding the league’s rookie scoring crown.
- Mississippi at Fayetteville – 7:05 ET
- Louisiana at Columnbus – 7:30 ET
- Peoria at Knoxville – 7:35 ET
- Huntsville at Pensacola – 7:05 CT