LAFAYETTE, LA — Last night in the Southern Professional Hockey league the Knoxville Ice Bears found their way back in the win column, Dave Pszenyczny extended his league-leading assist streak, and the Birmingham Bulls’ quest for their first win continues.
In Knoxville, the Ice Bears continue to have the Fayetteville Marksmen’s number. The Ice Bears improved their record against the Marksmen to 3-0-0 on the season in a 3-1 victory at the KCAC last night. Berkley Scott got his first goal of the season – of course, it was the game-winning tally – while Zoltan Hetenyi made 25 of 26 saves as the Ice Bears wiped out a two-game skid. The Ice Bears make the trip to Roanoke tomorrow, while the Marksmen head to Macon to face the defending champs.
The Birmingham Bulls got a needed offensive boost from Josh Harris, but the normally steady defense could not contain the streaking Mississippi RiverKings at the Pelham Civic Center. Harris scored the Bulls first two goals, giving Birmingham a 2-1 lead over Mississippi early in the second period. Forty seconds later, The RiverKings Brant Sherwood erased the Bulls lead en route to four unanswered Mississippi goals. The 0-7-0 Bulls host the Peoria Rivermen at the PCC, while the RiverKings head back to Southaven to host the Evansville Thunderbolts.
Finally, Eric Levine won his SPHL-leading fifth game last night at the Ford Center with help from Connor Gorman‘s first two goals of the young season in a 4-1 Rivermen victory. Levine made 36 of 37 saves, 18 of those coming in a 19-shot Evansville onslaught during the second period. Mike Gurtler iced the game with his third empty-net goal of the year with 55 seconds remaining. The Rivs make their first trip to Birmingham since both the Rivermen and Bulls were in the ECHL, while the Thunderbolts travel to Southaven to play the RiverKings.
Last Night’s SPHL Three Stars
★ – Eric Levine (G-Peoria) – 36/37 saves, SPHL-leading fifth win.
★★ – Connor Gorman (LW-Peoria) Two goals, +1 plus/minus, game-winning goal
★★★ – Lawrence Cornellier (RW-Knoxville) Two assists, game-winning assist
This Week’s #HockeyFightsCancer Buck-A-Goal Tally
Title Belt Game
Evansville Thunderbolts at Mississippi RiverKings – 7:00 CT
- Tonight’s game will be the first meeting between the teams this year. The RiverKings went 6-0-1 against the Thunderbolts last season.
- Mississippi will be attempting their second SPHL Title Belt defense.
- The RiverKings have the league’s longest active win streak at four games.
- A quartet of players will face their former teammates tonight. Vytal Cote and Don Olivieri once played for Evansville, while Robbie Hall and Mark Petaccio are former RiverKings. Olivieri and Hall were involved in a trade between the teams last week.
- @SinBinSwami sez: Will Evansville be able to keep their goalies in town for this one? I say they do and pul it out on the road. Evansville 4, Mississippi 2
Knoxville Ice Bears at Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs – 7:05 ET
- Last season, the Ice Bears won seven of eight against Roanoke.
- Fun Fact: Berkley Scott’s last four goals – dating back to March 28th, 2017 – have been game-winning tallies. Scott set an SPHL record last year with 12 game-winning goals in a season.
- Both of the Rail Yard Dawgs wins this season have come at the expense of the Macon Mayhem – in overtime.
- Roanoke’s Steve Mele is the first player to record five assists on five consecutive goals scored by his team in a game since Ice Bears legend and SPHL all-time scoring leader Kevin Swider accomplished the feat on 3/26/2010 during a 9-3 Knoxville win vs. Huntsville.
- @SinBinSwami sez: Knoxville and Roanoke are both looking for some consistency, in the win column that is. Roanoke takes this one. Roanoke 5, Knoxville 3
Fayetteville Marksmen at Macon Mayhem – 7:35 ET
- Last season, Macon won the season series against Fayetteville with a 5-3-1 record.
- Mayhem winger Daniel Gentzler scored eight points against Fayetteville last season, notching four goals and four assists. Gentzler is tied for Macon’s team lead with Jake Trask with 14 points.
- The Mayhem have struggled with special teams on home ice. Macon is ninth in the league on both the power play (14.8%) and the penalty kill (77.3%) at home.
- The Marksmen have dropped six games in a row in two consecutive seasons. Fayetteville went 0-6-0 during a stretch from 10/29/16 to 11/18/16. Coincidentally, both losing skids began the fourth game of each respective season.
- @SinBinSwami sez: Fayetteville has the worst statistical defense in the league. Macon is a dangerous offensive team…not a good combo. Macon 6, Fayetteville 3
Peoria Rivermen at Birmingham Bulls – 7:05 CT
- The Rivermen and Bulls meet in Alabama for the first time in over 17 years. The ECHL Peoria Rivermen defeated the Birmingham Bulls in a 6-3 decision on 11/10/2000.
- Earlier this season, Birmingham was swept by the Rivermen in a two-game set last month.
- Mike Gurtler leads all Rivermen in goals scored against Birmingham with three. Two of Gurtler’s three tallies were empty-netters.
- Birmingham’s John Rey leads his team in scoring with three points (2G/1A).
- @SinBinSwami sez: Peoria is not the elixir to help Birmingham’s offensive woes. Bulls stay winless. Peoria 4, Birmingham 1
Huntsville Havoc at Pensacola Ice Flyers – 7:05 CT
- The Ice Flyers won the lone game played between the teams this season, a 6-2 victory in Huntsville on November 9th.
- Pensacola remains the lone team in the SPHL to remain unbeaten (3-0-0) at home.
- First goal wins: Both Huntsville (4-0-0) and Pensacola (5-0-0) are unblemished when scoring the first goal of the game.
- The Havoc have the SPHL’s top power play with an astronomical 35.5% success rate.
- @SinBinSwami sez: A battle of two powerhouses in the league so far this season. Huntsville gets the edge with Sean Bonar up in the ECHL. Huntsville 4, Pensacola 3
- Macon at Pensacola – 6:35 CT
- Fayetteville at Roanoke – 7:05 ET
- Evansville at Huntsville – 7:00 CT