LAFAYETTE, LA — From all of us at The Sin Bin to you and your families, we would like to wish y’all a merry and joyous Christmas! Let’s sing a carol!
On the first day of Christmas, Jim Combs gave to me… A call-up to the ECHL!
This season, SPHL players are as hot of a holiday gift this season as those Hatchibles. Guys have been flying off the shelves all season, turning this SPHL season into not only a physical war of attrition but also in personnel. As of this morning, there have been 51 total call-ups involving 47 different players – 39 of them remain on ECHL rosters. No team has been hit harder this season than the Pensacola Ice Flyers, who have seven guys on ECHL loans – four over the past ten days.
On the second day of Christmas, Jim Combs gave to me… Two-dollar beer nights!
Well, that’s obvious.
On the third day of Christmas, Jim Combs gave to me… Three game suspension!
In which case, Knoxville’s Tyler Howe was especially worthy. On Tuesday, Howe was given a pair of three-gamers, along with a generous two-game tip from the league president.
On the fourth day of Christmas, Jim Combs gave to me… Four new coaches!
The SPHL coaching carousel has been in full swing since the end of last season. Besides Jeff Bes‘ transfer to Pensacola from Fayetteville, we are up to four rookie coaches in the SPHL. The now-dismissed Nick Mazzolini in Fayetteville was replaced three weeks ago by former FHL coach Phil Esposito. Knoxville replaced long-time bench boss Mike Craigen with former Utah Grizzlies assistant Jeff Carr, Jamey Hicks is the Birmingham Bulls’ inaugural coach, and now former Rivermen captain Dan Bremner replaces Sam Ftorek in Roanoke. Something tells me we’re not done yet, especially if Fayetteville’s fortunes don’t reverse soon.
On the fifth day of Christmas, Jim Combs gave to me… A FIVE-GAME PLAYOFF SERIES!!!
Well, we all can dream, can’t we?
Birmingham Bulls at Fayetteville Marksmen – 7:00 ET
- Tonight is the first-ever meeting between the Bulls and Marksmen.
- The Bulls seem to be finding their scoring touch lately. Over the last five games, Birmingham has scored 17 goals, including four power-play tallies.
- Over the Marksmen’s last ten games, the team has started four different goaltenders.
- Birmingham forward Evan Schultz is riding a ten-game point scoring streak – the longest current streak in the league.
- @SinBinSwami sez: Fayetteville has to bounce back after last weekend. I mean, how can it get any worse? Birmingham 4, Fayetteville 2
Pensacola Ice Flyers at Macon Mayhem – 7:35 ET
LIVE on The Sin Bin mobile app – pregame at 7:15 ET
- The Ice Flyers currently lead the season series, two games to one.
- Macon has especially struggled against the Ice Flyers’ defense. The Mayhem has only three goals against Pensacola.
- Speaking of defense, Pensacola has allowed only 38 goals this season, 11 fewer than Peoria and Huntsville at 49.
- Macon’s Jake Trask leads all current SPHL scorers with 11 goals.
- @SinBinSwami sez: The Mayhem feasted a ton at last week’s all-you-can-eat buffet. Should be slim pickings at the table tonight in Pensacola. Pensacola 3, Macon 2
Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs at Evansville Thunderbolts – 7:15 CT
- The teams last met in Roanoke on November 3 & 4, with the Thunderbolts winning both games in a two-game weekend set.
- The Thunderbolts are on a four-game winning streak. A win tonight ties their longest ever win streak at five games, which occurred on November 26th to December 13th.
- Roanoke’s Steve Mele has been averaging an assist per game this season – 18 helpers in as many games played.
- Evansville’s Chase Nieuwendyk has the longest current assist streak in the league at five games – the fifth longest in the league this season.
- @SinBinSwami sez: Roanoke has been in the dawg house on the road this season, but playing for a new coach should spark the team. Should be an entertaining one tonight. Roanoke 5, Evansville 4 (OT)
Mississippi RiverKings at Peoria Rivermen – 7:15 CT
- A month ago, the Rivermen and RiverKings split a weekend series at Carver Arena.
- RiverKings goaltender Tyler Green has a .956 save percentage against Peoria this season, allowing three goals on 68 shots.
- Peoria’s Jacob Barber has been on a scoring tear lately. The rookie center is leading his team with nine points (4G/5A) over the last five games.
- Mississippi has scored the first goal of the game more than any other team with 12 in their 18 games. The RiverKings are 10-2-0 in those matches.
- @SinBinSwami sez: It seems the Kings and Rivs are headed in different directions lately, but Mississippi always plays a tough game against Peoria. It won’t be enough. Peoria 3, Mississippi 1
Tomorrow Night’s Games
- Title Belt Game: Knoxville at Evansville – 7:15 CT
- Fayetteville at Macon – 7:35 ET
- Birmingham at Huntsville – 7:00 CT
- Pensacola at Mississippi – 7:00 CT
- Roanoke at Peoria – 7:15 CT