The swell of activity on the SPHL transaction report which typically occurs on Monday afternoons is nicknamed Manic Monday. With all the player moves announced yesterday, January 12th, 2017 will be known as Turbulent Thursday. Sorry, folks… no catchy song.

A quick lookup of songs with Thursday (along with Wednesday, the most unpopular day of the week to muse about) shows only two titles: Thursday, by the Pet Shop Boys (2013) and Thursday’s Child by David Bowie (1999). Personally, I think the PSBs have a much catchier tune. Bowie’s offering… pretty depressing. Anyway… let’s get away from obscure music trivia and back to hockey.

In a nutshell, here’s what went down.

  • The Macon Mayhem got winger Collin MacDonald and defenseman Nick Grasso back from the Indy Fuel, then sent forward Daniel Gentzler to the Toledo Walleye – where thankfully he wasn’t subjected to wearing these jerseys.
  • Forward Chad Bennett of the Huntsville Havoc was traded to the Evansville Thunderbolts for a player to be named later. Bennett appeared in ten games in Huntsville, scoring a goal with two assists. Former All-Rookie forward Garrett Vermeersch was given his walking papers by the Bolts to make room for Bennett.
  • Meanwhile, in Knoxville, pesky defenseman Jake Flegel was activated from injured reserve and blueliner Stephen Gallo was sent packing.
  • Earlier in the week, Evansville let defenseman Bo Driscoll and his league-low plus/minus rating of -17 go. Driscoll gets a lease on life with a signing by the Peoria Rivermen. We’ll see if Driscoll can turn his season around on a defense-minded team.
  • The Pensacola Ice Flyers’ blue line got a boost with Myles McCauley returning from IR and the signing of FHLer Brandon Fehd.
  • Former Wisconsin-Stevens Point forward Alex Kromm spent a little post-collegiate time with the Columbus Cottonmouths last season. After starting the season in ECHL Wheeling, Kromm is back with the Snakes. Defenseman Ben Bauer came off the IR and new blueliner Glen Patterson arrived from Europe.

The biggest news from yesterday’s transaction wire involved a trade between the Mississippi RiverKings and Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs. The Kings sent veteran winger Todd Hosmer, who led the league in goals scored in the 2013-14 season, to the Dawgs in exchange of rookie forward Mitchell Vandergunst. Vandergunst, traded to Roanoke by the Knoxville Ice Bears earlier in the week and promptly placed on team suspension, never played a game in a Roanoke sweater.  Both players have spent time on injured reserve this season and produced at a below-expected pace this season. Neither player was on the roster for their new teams when the RiverKings played their first-ever game at Roanoke last night. Roanoke also placed defenseman Phil Tesoriero on the 14-day IR and signed forward Zach Tatrn to a three-gamer, while the RiverKings activated Matt Harrington from his IR stint and signed former FireAntz/IceGators forward Austin Daae (Pronounced “Doe” if you’re curious). Daae has 35 points in 27 FHL games this season and earns another crack at the SPHL.

League scoring leader Cullen Bradshaw‘s call-up to the ECHL Adirondack Thunder? Pfft… Wednesday’s news.

But wait… there’s more!!! We had a hockey game too after all this madness.

The RiverKings became the sixth SPHL team to make their first-ever trip to Roanoke last night. Pensacola, Peoria, and Columbus (in order) have yet to make the trip to Virginia. Despite jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the second period due to a Brantley Sherwood goal, the Dawgs bit back with a Phil Bronner – recently acquired by Roanoke – power play goal and an even-strength marker by Mike Moroso less than two minutes later. Massimo Lamacchia added an empty-net insurance goal at the end of the game, and the Dawgs won their first game in regulation in almost a month. Tyler Gjurich added a pair of assists to crack the 20-point plateau.

Tonight’s Game Capsules

Title Belt Game: Evansville Thunderbolts at Huntsville Havoc

  • Two weeks ago, Huntsville rolled the Thunderbolts in a two-game set at the Ford Center, outscoring the Thunderbolts 12-5 over the weekend.
  • Huntsville is looking to break an 11-year-old mark. The Havoc are going for a franchise-record ninth straight win tonight. The current eight-game record goes back to February/March 2006.
  • Evansville forward Justin MacDonald has a league-high nine-game point scoring streak on the line tonight.
  • The Havoc lead the SPHL in goals, assists, points, and attendance. Huntsville is also 14-0-1 when scoring first.
  • Sin Bin Swami sez: The last time Huntsville lost in regulation it was Thanksgiving. 3 regulation losses since Halloween…think about that. They’re beating teams so badly that girlfriends are crying.  I’m taking Huntsville at home.

Mississippi RiverKings at Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs

  • Last night’s 3-1 victory by the Dawgs was the teams’ first-ever meeting.
  • The one goal allowed last night by Roanoke was the first time this season the Dawgs held opponents to less than two goals in a game.
  • With both Cullen Bradshaw and Mike Moran in the ECHL, Ryan Marcuz is now the RiverKings’ leading scorer with 19 points (11G/8A).
  • Something to think about: Over the last five games, the RiverKings are a combined -43 while the Dawgs are a -20. Roanoke has the better goal differential at -4 compared to Mississippi’s -5.
  • Sin Bin Swami sez: I am taking Mississippi tonight because it’s I do every Friday and sooner or later they have to make me right.

Columbus Cottonmouths at Knoxville Ice Bears

  • Tonight is the first meeting between the Original Four franchises this season and the 110th all-time regular season game. Last season, the Snakes took the season series 5-4 but the Ice Bears own the all-time series 56-44-9.
  • The last time someone other than Keegan Bruce scored a game-winning goal for Columbus was Petr Senkerik at Pensacola on November 12th.
  • The Ice Bears penalty kill is approaching historic levels. Knoxville has successfully killed off 92.6% of power plays this season. The all-time record of 89.4% was set by the Louisiana IceGators in the 2012-13 season.
  • Knoxville’s Berkley Scott is riding a league-high eight-game assist streak, scoring 11 helpers in this span.
  • Sin Bin Swami sez: I’m taking Knoxville by 8 tonight. I predict it’s 8-0 when Columbus just quits and leaves the ice.

Fayetteville FireAntz at Pensacola Ice Flyers

  • Fayetteville has won both previous games against the Flyers. On opening weekend at the Hangar, the Antz won by 6-3 and 2-1 (SO) margins.
  • The FireAntz are tied for the league’s second-best record over the last ten games at 7-2-1.
  • Pensacola defensemen Louie Belisle has nine points (3G/6A) over his five-game point scoring streak.
  • Look for low scores: All three active goaltenders (Matt Zenzola/John McLean of Pensacola, Sean Bonar of Fayetteville) have less than a 2.00 GAA over their last five games.
  • Sin Bin Swami sez: I like Fayetteville over Pensacola because if they aren’t playing the Snakes, there’s no way I’m taking Pensacola.

Macon Mayhem at Peoria Rivermen

  • The two teams last met on Halloween weekend at the Macon Centroplex, with both teams splitting wins. Peoria has the 1-0-1 edge this season. The Mayhem/RiverHawks/Cyclones franchise have never won at Carver Arena.
  • A homecoming (of sorts): Macon goaltender Troy Passingham attended training camp with the Rivermen over the preseason.
  • The Mayhem will play teams with .600 percentages or higher in eight of their next ten games. The last game Macon played against one of the league’s other top teams was on December 10th, a 5-2 loss to the RiverKings.
  • Goaltender Tyler Parks has returned to Peoria after a call-up to the ECHL Missouri Mavericks.
  • Sin Bin Swami sez: Peoria has a much better road game than at home for whatever reason. Macon is incredible on the road. Earlier this year, I said I’d believe in Macon when they started beating better opponents. This is their time to shine… But they won’t. Take Peoria at home.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite players in our 2017 SPHL All-Star Team fan vote!

Tomorrow’s Games

  • Roanoke at Columbus – 7:30 ET
  • Mississippi at Huntsville – 7:00 CT
  • Fayetteville at Pensacola – 7:05 CT
  • Macon at Peoria – 7:05 CT
  • Knoxville at Evansville – 7:15 CT

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