LAFAYETTE, LA — Winter has finally arrived here in the deep south. As temperatures across the region eventually drop into the 30s and 40s and we get our first snow (spelled sneaux in Lafayette) of the season, only one thing comes to mind:

Where the heck is my jacket?

I need to invest in some winter gear this season. In just over a month from now, I’ll join my ECHL writers at the league’s annual All-Star Classic in Indianapolis. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been able to catch some ECHL action, but what has me excited is I’ll finally meet some of my fellow writers in person. Okay, this isn’t exactly accurate. Two seasons ago I caught up with Barry Janssen in Allen for the 2016 Kelly Cup Playoffs and last year I hung out with Mike Finazzo in Evansville for the Thunderbolts first-ever home game. Also, former Elmira Jackals writer Kevin Jordan caught up with me at a Louisiana IceGators game a few seasons ago. Still, the Indianapolis trip will be the first time I’ll be with a group of our writers at a single event, and I’m looking forward to working with the big boys.

I’ll be working in the freezing freaking cold. Average temperatures for Indianapolis in mid-January is a high of 34°F and a low of 19°F. We’re just not prepared here in Louisiana for cold of this magnitude.

Speaking of all-star events, I’m happy to announce we’re bringing back the SPHL All-Star Team for the third year. The league doesn’t have an all-star game of their own, unlike the other pro leagues in North America. However, this doesn’t stop us from having our fun with this. Last year’s fan voting turned out to be our most popular event in the history of the site with thousands of the best fans in all of hockey visiting the site to vote for their favorite players. Keep on following us throughout the month as we begin to ramp up the anticipation of announcing each team’s finalists and the opening of fan voting on January 10th.

The new Fayetteville Marksmen coach made his first roster moves since assuming command two weeks ago. Phil Esposito, through a pair of trades, picked up forward Jamie Hill from the Mississippi RiverKings for forward Shane Bennett and blueliner Cody Walsh. Esposito also acquired goaltender Kent Patterson from the Pensacola Ice Flyers in a yet-to-be-completed deal. Esposito released rookie Michael Santaguida and fifth-year netminder Matt Zenzola.

The ECHL announced yesterday Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs head coach Sam Ftorek will be inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame next month. Ftorek holds the ECHL career all-time record for games played with 837 appearances over 14 seasons. Ftorek’s induction will take place during the ECHL All-Star Classic in Indianapolis on Monday, January 15th.

Tonight’s Games

Programming Note: The role of @SinBinSwami is being played this week by @SinBinSPHL. You have been warned.

Title Belt Game – Huntsville Havoc at Peoria Rivermen – 7:15 CT

  • Last season, the Havoc won four of five against the Rivermen, yet Peoria owns a 17-7-1 advantage over Huntsville.
  • The Rivermen will attempt their third defense of the SPHL Title Belt since obtaining the belt after a 1-0 win over the RiverKings on November 25th. Peoria is 3-3 in Title Belt games this season.
  • Mike Gurtler likes the home cooking in Peoria. Gurtler leads his team in goals scored at Carver Arena with five.
  • Over the last five games, Huntsville goaltender Mike DeLaVergne has appeared in three games, going 2-0-1 with a 1.61 GAA and a .958 SV%.
  • @SinBinSwami Sez: The Rivermen haven’t beaten the Havoc at home in almost two years. Perhaps tomorrow night. Havoc 3, Rivermen 1

Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs at Fayetteville Marksmen – 7:00 ET

  • The teams meet tonight for the fourth of 13 contests this season. Two of the Marksmen’s four wins this season have come at the expense of the Dawgs.
  • The Rail Yard Dawgs, third in the league on the power play at 18.8%, have yet to score a power play goal against Fayetteville, who has the league’s second-lowest penalty kill at 79.2%.
  • Fayetteville captain Jake Hauswirth has three goals and four assists in his last five games.
  • Both Fayetteville and Roanoke are among the league leaders in shorthanded goals scored with three.
  • @SinBinSwami Sez: Newcomer Kent Patterson will be about as fortunate as the guy he replaced. Dawgs 5, Marksmen 4 (OT)

Birmingham Bulls at Mississippi RiverKings – 7:00 CT

  • Third meeting between the teams. The RiverKings have won both previous games.
  • RiverKings backup netminder Jared Rutledge has started both games against Birmingham this season.
  • Birmingham, the lowest-scoring team in the league, has more trouble scoring away from the PCC. The Bulls, 1.8 goals per game at home, scores 1.2 goals per game on the road.
  • The RiverKings currently have four players in the ECHL: Defensemen Vytal Cote & Don Olivieri and forwards Dan Tedesco & Derek Sutliffe. The four players have combined for 18 goals and 20 assists and a +14 rating for Mississippi.
  • @SinBinSwami Sez: The Bulls are making strides, and the Kings are doing a bit of reshuffling. I see a trap game unfolding. Bulls 3, RiverKings 2 (SO)

Macon Mayhem at Evansville Thunderbolts – 7:15 CT

  • The Mayhem visit the Ford Center for the second time this season. Macon has a 2-1-0 record against the Bolts this season.
  • The other half of the trade which sent Tomas Sholl from Macon to Evansville has not yet been completed.
  • Eleven different Mayhem players have scored goals over the team’s last five games.
  • The Thunderbolts have scored the first goal in ten of their games this season – most in the league. Macon has not lost a game in regulation (5-0-2) when they strike first.
  • @SinBinSwami Sez: Bolts score first, Bolts score second, and then comes the third period. Mayhem 4, Bolts 3

Saturday’s Games:

  • Fayetteville at Roanoke – 7:05 ET
  • Birmingham at Macon – 7:35 ET
  • Knoxville at Pensacola – 7:05 CT
  • Mississippi at Evansville – 7:15 CT
  • Huntsville at Peoria – 7:15 CT

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