LAFAYETTE, LA — It’s time for hockey y’all!!! The puck drops on the Southern Professional Hockey League’s 14th season tonight with a three-game slate.
Tonight, we see a new banner rise to the rafters of the Macon Coliseum in front of the previous team to win the Presidents Cup. Also, we get our first game of the new-look Fayetteville Marksmen and the coaching debuts of Fayetteville’s Nick Mazzolini & Knoxville’s Jeff Carr.
We’ve already seen some player shuffling after final cuts were announced on Wednesday. Vytal Cote and Robbie Hall departed Evansville to bolster the defense in Southaven. Macon’s Troy Passingham became the league’s first call-up as he heads up to the Atlanta Gladiators. Trever Hertz is with his third team in the past seven days, being traded from Knoxville to Mississippi to Pensacola. Finally, Don Olivieri was cut by Peoria only to land with the team the Rivs will face on Saturday night.
Tonight’s Game Capsules
Fayetteville Marksmen at Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs
- Last season, Fayetteville won eight of ten games against Roanoke. This season, the Marksmen and Dawgs will play each other 13 times. Thirteen.
- Jake Hauswirth had a great season against Roanoke last year. The center scored 12 points (7G/5A) against the Dawgs, including three goals and an assist on the power play.
- On the Roanoke end, Dmytro Babenko and Nick Schneider each scored six points against Fayetteville. Babenko led the Dawgs with four goals while Schneider notched a team-high five assists.
- The Dawgs allowed the most shots on goal in the SPHL last season. Fayetteville averaged 37.7 shots a game when playing Roanoke.
- @SinBinSwami sez: The Marksmen may have a new coach, but still have plenty of firepower. Marksmen 5, Dawgs 3.
Pensacola Ice Flyers at Macon Mayhem
LIVE on The Sin Bin Mobile App – Pregame at 7:35 ET
- Last season, the Mayhem went 8-1-1 against the Ice Flyers. Against the Jeff Bes-coached FireAntz, Macon had a 5-3-1 record.
- Look for the Pensacola special teams to return to form. Last season, the Flyers had the league’s second-worst power play at 13.8% and the fifth-best penalty kill of 84.4%. Bes’ FireAntz led the league with the man advantage at 19.6% and the second best team playing shorthanded at 86.7%.
- The Bonar factor: All-SPHL netminder Sean Bonar struggled somewhat against Macon last season, going 3-4-0 while notching a shutout with a below-average 2.60 GAA and .915 SV%.
- No returning Pensacola player scored more than one goal and/or one assist against Macon last season.
- @SinBinSwami sez: Bonar should keep this game close, and I think I’m underestimating the Ice Flyers. Could be a bit of Cup hangover… Mayhem 4, Ice Flyers 3 (OT)
Knoxville Ice Bears at Mississippi RiverKings
- In 2016-17, the RiverKings notched a 4-1-1 record over the Ice Bears.
- Both teams will be featuring SPHL newcomers in net tonight.
- Last season Knoxville’s Berkley Scott scored two goals with four assists against Mississippi.
- Among the RiverKings’ returners, forwards Dillan Fox and Ryan Marcuz had four points when playing the Ice Bears.
- @SinBinSwami sez: All things being equal between unfamiliar opponents. I’ll take the experienced coach on his home turf. RiverKings 3, Ice Bears 2
- Huntsville at Macon – 7:35 ET
- Birmingham at Mississippi – 7:00 CT
- Peoria at Evansville – 7:15 CT