LAFAYETTE, LA – Five weekends remain in the SPHL regular season, and all nine teams are beginning their push to the President’s Cup. This is the time of the year when players called up to ECHL teams begin to work their way back to their SPHL teams, and this season is no exception. Four players loaned to ECHL teams returned to the SPHL this week.
This week, Peoria’s Alec Hagaman returns after a nine-game stint with the Evansville IceMen. The Ice Flyers’ Joey Holka has been in the SPHL since being called up to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in December. Holka returns to Pensacola after playing 27 games for the Swamp Rabbits and Adirondack Thunder. Louisiana goalie Brad Barone returns after a short time with the Atlanta Gladiators. Finally, Mississippi netminder Pete Di Salvo returns to the RiverKings after being picked up by the Colorado Eagles, then being picked up on waivers by the Fort Wayne Komets, traded to the Allen Americans, and finally dealt to Adirondack. Di Salvo went 3-2-0 in seven appearances, with a 2.32 GAA and .908 SV%.
It’s uncommon to see players get sent back to the ECHL in March, as league rules stipulate anyone getting called up after March 1st are ineligible to return to their SPHL team. However, the Peoria Journal-Star’s Dave Eminiam reports Rivermen blueliner Mike Donnelan has taken a call-up to the Missouri Mavericks. Donnellan, a 6’3″ defenseman, was a +8 for Peoria while contributing a goal and 11 assists in 27 games. Donnellan is expected to fill in for suspended Missouri defenseman C.J. Ludwig.
Louisiana IceGators (21-21-4) at Fayetteville FireAntz (21-19-3)
- If the Huntsville Havoc lose tonight, the winner of this game will move up to 5th in the league standings.
- Fifth of six meetings this season, and the first game since 12/6/15. The season series is tied at 2-1-1.
- Louisiana forward Zac Frischmon will play his first game against his former team. Frischmon, acquired in a trade with the FireAntz on 1/13/16, has 20 points (10G/10A) with the IceGators.
- Forwards Kyle Gibbons, Josh McQuade, and Nick Lazorko have been pacing the Antz on offense, combining for 15 points (7G/8A) over the last five games.
Columbus Cottonmouths (16-21-7) at Knoxville Ice Bears (23-19-4)
- Seventh game between the teams, with Columbus winning four of the six previous meetings.
- The Ice Bears can move into third in the SPHL standings with a win tonight, leapfrogging the idle Pensacola Ice Flyers. The Snakes can potentially get within a point of a playoff spot with a win and a Mayhem loss.
- The Ice Bears have the top home power play at 20.7%. However, the Cottonmouths have the top penalty kill on the road at 93.7%.
- Knoxville’s Denny Sicard has a two-game goal scoring streak. Both goals in his streak are game winners.
Macon Mayhem (19-23-4) at Mississippi RiverKings (23-14-7)
- Tonight is the eighth and final meeting between the teams. The RiverKings hold a 5-1-1 advantage in the season series, with the Mayhem winning the previous two.
- Mississippi’s Leo Thomas, currently with the ECHL Fort Wayne Komets, leads all players in the series with four goals.
- Macon goalie Garrett Bartus leads the SPHL in save percentage, total saves, and minutes played.
- The RiverKings are the SPHL’s least penalized team, averaging 12.48 penalty minutes per game.
Peoria Rivermen (32-9-3) at Huntsville Havoc (22-20-3)
- Sixth of seven games this season between the teams. The Rivermen have won all five previous meetings, with one via shootout. The regular season series will conclude tomorrow night.
- Rivermen forward Steve Morra came out of retirement to play for Peoria this season. Morra leads all players in the series with six points (3G/3A).
- Both teams take plenty of penalties. The Rivermen lead the SPHL in minor penalties with 273, while the Havoc’s 62 majors & 23.91 pim/gm are tops in the league.
- The Havoc are 8-1-1 at home when leading after the first period.
- Louisiana at Fayetteville – 7:05 ET
- Macon at Knoxville – 7:35 ET
- Mississippi at Pensacola – 7:05 CT
- Peoria at Huntsville – 7:30 CT