LAFAYETTE, LA — The implosion of the ECHL Norfolk Admirals’ affiliation with the NHL Nashville Predators and AHL Milwaukee Admirals was the impetus for a week of roster chaos across the Southern Professional Hockey League. We have seen eleven players from seven SPHL teams head up to the ECHL over the past week, with a total of 17 players – just shy of a whole roster – playing in the AA level hockey league. Five of the week’s 11 promotions were to Norfolk, wherein the premature ending of their affiliation, all of the Predators and Admirals players being transferred out of Norfolk.
Fun Fact: The Huntsville Havoc is the lone SPHL team not to have a player called up this season.
The SPHL coaching tenure of new Fayetteville Marksmen coach Phil Esposito (no relation) got off to a calamitous beginning last night in Knoxville. The Marksmen, 2-0-1 in their last three games, saw whatever momentum they had built after their seven-game losing streak come to a screeching halt in a disastrous 8-1 loss to the Ice Bears in the league’s lone Thursday game. Josh Erickson had two goals and an assist for Knoxville, extending his goal-scoring streak to three games. The Ice Bears and Marksmen combined for 111 shots, with a season-high 60 for Knoxville. Zoltan Hetenyi made the most saves for a goalie this year with 50 and added an assist on Knoxville’s seventh goal.
Programming note: Your @SinBinSwami is played this week by our Jimmy Gentry.
Title Belt Game – Peoria Rivermen at Fayetteville Marksmen – 7:00 ET
- Last season, the Rivermen went 3-1-1 against Fayetteville. Tonight’s game is the first of five between the teams. After this weekend’s two game set, the teams will meet in Peoria on 2/16 – 2/18/18.
- Alec Hagaman has two goals and two assists over his last five games for Peoria. Last season, Hagaman led the Rivermen with six points (2G/4A) against Fayetteville. Fortunately for the Marksmen, Hagaman is serving the balance of his three-game suspension this weekend.
- The Hagaman suspension and the loss of Justin Greenberg to injury has the Rivermen with only 14 skaters making the trip to Fayetteville.
- Not to be outdone, Ludlow Harris is also serving a one-game suspension for the Marksmen after last night’s game in Knoxville. Fayetteville is skating with 15 tonight.
- Jake Hauswirth continues to be a point of light for the Marksmen. Hauswirth continues to lead the SPHL in scoring with 24 points (6G/18A) and 18 assists with a seven-game point scoring streak and a five-game assist streak.
- @SinBinSwami sez: Fayetteville and Peoria are both shorthanded heading into this matchup, except Peoria still has the talent. Peoria 6, Fayetteville 2
Birmingham Bulls at Huntsville Havoc – 7:00 CT
- The Havoc handed the Bulls their lone shutout of the year with a 4-0 blanking in Pelham on November 10th.
- Rookie center Shane Topf makes his Birmingham debut against his former team tonight. Topf was scoreless in four games with the Havoc.
- Josh Harris has been an offensive spark for the Bulls. Harris has four goals in five games since his signing, and has scored in his last three games.
- Something’s gotta give: Tonight’s game features the top-rated power play of Huntsville (28.2%) and the league-leading penalty kill of Birmingham (88.1%)
- @SinBinSwami sez: One of the best offenses against the worst offense in the league. Last time I checked you had to score goals to win games. Huntsville 5, Birmingham 1
Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs at Mississippi RiverKings – 7:00 CT
- Three weeks ago, the RiverKings swept Roanoke in a two-game set on November 10-11.
- Mississippi winger Derek Sutliffe has three goals, five assists, and a +7 rating in his last five games. Sutliffe is currently leading all SPHL rookies in scoring with13 points (6G/7A).
- Roanoke forward David Gandara has the hot hand for the Dawgs with four goals in the last five games.
- RiverKings goalie Tyler Green is tied for the league lead in wins with six.
- @SinBinSwami sez: The Dawgs on the road against the Riverkings The Kings will keep their crown. Mississippi 5, Roanoke 3
Macon Mayhem at Pensacola Ice Flyers – 7:05 CT
- Third meeting this year between the last two Presidents Cup champs. Both teams notched a victory, with the Mayhem taking a 2-1 decision on November 22nd.
- Six Mayhem players have five or more goals scored so far this season.
- The Ice Flyers are first in the league with 2.25 goals allowed per game and second in the league in shots allowed with 29.17.
- In the third period, Macon has scored 18 goals, while Pensacola has allowed only five.
- @SinBinSwami sez: The Ice Flyers have lost four of their last five while the Mayhem have not lost in regulation in seven games. Macon 5, Pensacola 3
Knoxville Ice Bears at Evansville Thunderbolts – 7:15 CT
- The only previous game between Knoxville and Evansville was a 7-4 Ice Bears win in Knoxville.
- The Ice Bears have scored three or more goals in their last five games and six or more goals four times this season.
- Four seems to be the number for Evansville. The Thunderbolts have scored four goals in seven of their 12 games.
- Josh Erickson has a three-game goal scoring streak, scoring five during this stretch for the Ice Bears.
- @SinBinSwami sez: The Ice Bears head into this one on a high after winning 8-1 against Fayetteville. Just means a longer fall against the rising Thunderbolts. Evansville 4, Knoxville 2
- Peoria at Fayetteville – 6:00 ET
- Roanoke at Mississippi – 7:00 CT
- Huntsville at Evansville – 7:15 CT
Follow The Sin Bin’s SPHL team on Twitter
Mike Campos – @SinBinSPHL
Jimmy Gentry – @SinBin_Marksmen
Justin Rieber – @SinBinBolts
Dawne Walters – @DawnieDanger