LAFAYETTE, LA — Happy Friday, which means it’s Game Day y’all! We have plenty of action tonight in the Southern Professional Hockey League, but first… a little fun. We decided to set to music last season’s tilt between Macon Mayhem forward Dennis Sicard, then of the Knoxville Ice Bears and David Segal, a former Ice Bear who was playing with the Pensacola Ice Flyers. Some of you may remember Segal was waived by the Ice Bears in favor of Sicard and a scrap between the two middleweights was highly anticipated. Ever the professionals, the duo did not disappoint and the added musical track (called the Celine-a-Scene treatment) gives the bout a hilarious change of pace.  Joel Silverberg with the call. Crank up the volume and enjoy!

The call-up bug has hit the SPHL in full force recently with several players moving up to the ECHL over the past two weeks. Naturally, the league-leading Macon Mayhem were hardest hit with three major players being called-up over the past two weeks – Goaltender Garrett Bartus, SPHL leading scorer John Siemer, and his partner in crime Collin MacDonald. Bartus, now with the Fort Wayne Komets, is having the most success of all SPHL call-ups this season, highlighted by a 23-save shutout of the Cincinnati Cyclones on December 7th. Here’s a list (current as of this morning) of all the SPHL players in the ECHL:

Note: After the article published, the Mayhem announced the return of MacDonald from ECHL Florida.

  • Columbus: G Lukas Hafner (Alaska), D Alex Pompeo (Norfolk)
  • Evansville: D Frank Misuraca (Cincinnati), D Frank Schumacher (Fort Wayne), LW Stephon Thorne (Fort Wayne)
  • Fayetteville: D Alex Brooks (South Carolina)
  • Huntsville: C Johnny Daniels (Atlanta)
  • Knoxville: G Charles Grant (Rapid City) – Returned
  • Macon: G Garrett Bartus (Fort Wayne), John Siemer (Greenville), Collin MacDonald (Florida) – Returned
  • Mississippi: C Devin Mantha (Fort Wayne), D Joe Sova (Fort Wayne) – Returned
  • Pensacola: G Drew Fielding (Reading), Brandon Blair (Norfolk), LW Austin McKay (Atlanta), D Evan Moore (Florida) – Returned
  • Peoria: D Conor Riley (Adirondack), D Frank Misuraca (Cincinnati) – Returned, LW Ryan Keller (Indy) – Returned
  • Roanoke: D Travis Armstrong (Norfolk), D Tim Boyle (Norfolk/Greenville) – Returned

Coming soon on our Inside the SPHL Podcast, we’re going to have a two-part 2016 year in review episode. Matt Harding and I will break down all of the major news stories from over the past 12 months. It’s going to be a great listen, so make sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Android, or Google Play. Now… on to tonight’s games!

Title Belt Game: Huntsville Havoc at Mississippi RiverKings

The RiverKings make their first SPHL Title Belt defense tonight against the Havoc since winning the belt for the second time this season on December 3rd against the Ice Flyers. Huntsville is appearing in their 10th Title Belt game of the season, with a 6-3 record.

  • First meeting between the teams this season. Huntsville won last season’s series with a 5-4-1 record but the RiverKings lead the all-time series, 29-14-2.
  • The injury bug bit the Havoc hard this week. C Scott Fellnermayr and D Ryan Wilkinson were both placed on IR, with C John Lidgett’s IR status extended. Coach Glenn Detulleo brought on D Ben Kramer – late of the Rivermen – to help out on a depleted blue line.
  • Look for a mild-mannered game tonight: The Havoc and RiverKings are two of the least penalized teams. Huntsville racks up an average of 12.06 PIMs per game, with Mississippi slightly more behaved with 11.47.
  • Huntsville has scored first in eight of their 16 games this season and has won all of them.
  • With Macon’s John Siemer in the ECHL, Huntsville’s Dylan Nowakowski and Sy Nutkevitch lead all active SPHL players in scoring with 18 points.

Pensacola Ice Flyers at Macon Mayhem

  • The second of tonight’s three first-of-the-season matchups. Last season, the Mayhem racked up a 5-2-1 record against the President’s Cup champs. Historically, the Mayhem/Riverhawks franchise have a 13-8-3 advantage over the Ice Flyers.
  • Look for a low-scoring game tonight. The last time the Ice Flyers allowed four goals in a game was on November 4th, while the Mayhem go all the way back to October 28th. The team who burned out the goal lamp on both teams? The Peoria Rivermen.
  • With Siemer and MacDonald in the ECHL, Daniel Gentzler is now the Mayhem’s leading active scorer. Gentzler has 13 points on the season (4G/9A), three more than Pensacola’s leading scorer, Louis Belisle.
  • The Ice Flyers have trouble scoring away from the Hangar. Pensacola averages a league-lowest 1.83 goals per game on the road.

Knoxville Ice Bears at Peoria Rivermen

  • Fans in Knoxville were treated to bonus hockey the last time these teams met on November 18th. Peoria won 5-4 as Maxime St-Cyr completed a hat trick with a game-winning overtime goal.
  • The Rivermen are riding a streak of eight games without a regulation loss. Since losing to the Havoc on November 12th, Peoria has gone 4-0-4, losing three games in overtime and one in a shootout.
  • Knoxville’s Danny Cesarz is the ultimate team player. Cesarz leads the SPHL in assists with 17 – without scoring a single goal.
  • Look for special teams to be a factor tonight. The Rivermen convert on 20.7% of power play opportunities at home and the Ice Bears are the league’s most penalized team at 22.43 PIM/game. Knoxville, however, stops 95.3% of opponents’ power plays on the road.

Columbus Cottonmouths at Evansville Thunderbolts

  • The Snakes visit the Ford Center in the first-ever game between the Cottonmouths and Thunderbolts.
  • Believe it or not… The Bolts, along with the Havoc, have the longest current winning streaks in the league at three straight victories.
  • Evansville’s Tanner Milliron has been otherworldly in his last three appearances. The rookie netminder is 3-0-0 in two starts with a 0.34 GAA and .987 SV% – allowing only one goal on 78 shots.
  • On the flip side… Brandon Jaeger of the Cottonmouths has allowed 13 goals in his last four games.
  • Look for a back-and-forth game tonight. The Bolts (564) and Snakes (498) are the top two teams in the SPHL in shots allowed.

Tommorrow’s Game

  • Mississippi RiverKings at Macon Mayhem – 7:35 ET

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