The Pensacola Ice Flyers Return to Form

The Pensacola Ice Flyers, after a five game winless streak and a week without ice to skate on, were in need of a break. Seven hours before their Friday night game with the Louisiana IceGators, they got one. The Gators’ bus broke down on the road, and the boys from the bayou were delayed four hours while waiting for a replacement bus. Louisiana’s travel woes, combined with the return of goaltender John McLean, helped the opportunistic Ice Flyers jump out to a 5-0 first period lead. Louisiana recovered enough to make a game of it, scoring three unanswered goals before Pensacola put home an empty-netter to break their five game losing streak, 6-3.

On Sunday, the Fayetteville FireAntz – with a 5-0-0 record against the Ice Flyers – returned to the Gulf Coast in search of their sixth win against Pensacola. However, Corey Banfield and Adam Pawlick would have none of it. The top scoring line in the SPHL, with winger Joe Caveney assisting, scored twice in their second shift of the game with goals 24 seconds apart. The Ice Flyers would cruise on to their second win of the weekend, 3-1.

Peoria Gets Their Playoff Card Punched

The first spot in the SPHL President’s Cup Playoffs was reserved this weekend. The Peoria Rivermen booked the first seat at the table for eight, and with a sense of irony it was the Louisiana IceGators making the reservations. The IceGators – the very team which dashed the Rivs’ title hopes last season – won 3-1 over the Macon Mayhem on Sunday afternoon. The Gators’ victory, combined with the Rivermen’s sweep over the Knoxville Ice Bears, gave Peoria the cushion they needed to secure a playoff berth.

Speaking of playoffs, we’re at the point where we can start talking about projections and magic numbers. Should the highly volatile projections hold up, we get some fascinating first-round matchups.

TEAM GP W L OTL PTS PCT PROJ M#
Peoria 41 30 8 3 63 .768 85
Mississippi 42 23 12 7 53 .631 71 10
Pensacola 40 22 15 3 47 .588 65 16
Fayetteville 40 21 16 3 45 .563 61 18
Huntsville 44 21 20 3 45 .511 57 18
Knoxville 43 20 19 4 44 .512 58 19
Louisiana 43 20 19 4 44 .512 59 19
Macon 45 18 23 4 40 .444 50 23
Columbus 42 15 21 6 36 .429 48 27
  • #1 Peoria (85 pts.) vs. #8 Macon (50 pts.) – Possibly, the best scenario for Peoria to finally advance past the first round. The Rivermen are undefeated against the Mayhem this season.
  • #2 Mississippi (71 pts.) vs. #7 Huntsville (57 pts.) – Unfortunately for the RiverKings, Huntsville (4-2-1) has the season edge.
  • #3 Pensacola (65 pts.) vs. #6 Knoxville (58 pts.) – An unfavorable pairing for the Ice Flyers. The Ice Bears have won three of four against Pensacola, and the defending champs are always a dangerous postseason team.
  • #4 Fayetteville (61 pts.) vs #5 Louisiana (59 pts.) – The FireAntz return to the playoffs after a two-year absence, and will get a tough test against the surging IceGators. The season series is even at 2-1-1, and the Gators are tough on the road.

This Week’s Three Stars

Dave Pszenyczny, Defenseman, Peoria Rivermen. What can overshadow teammate Chris Wilson’s eight game goal scoring streak? Two Chezy goals. The former ECHL/CHL blueliner has returned to form in Peoria.
Adam Pawlick, Center, Pensacola Ice Flyers. Pawlick, along with linemates Corey Banfield and Joe Caveney, lit up the IceGators and FireAntz this weekend. Paws’ three goals with a helper got the slumping Flyers back on track.
Adam Courchaine, Goalie, Louisiana IceGators. Ace makes the list for the second straight week. Courchaine went 2-0-0 in three appearances, allowing two goals on 66 shots in over 161 minutes of action.

Team Sin Bin’s Power Poll

  1. Peoria Rivermen (30-8-3, LW: 1) – The long layoff didn’t seem to affect the Rivs much, as they took down the red-hot Ice Bears.
  2. Mississippi RiverKings (23-12-7, LW: 2) – The Kings disappointed with a pair of losses against the Mayhem. Still, they have enough street cred to stay at #2… for now.
  3. Pensacola Ice Flyers (22-15-3, LW: 4) – Finally, some quality goaltending. McLean returns to the crease, and the Flyers start winning again.
  4. Knoxville Ice Bears (20-19-4, LW: 3) – The Bears gave the Rivs all they could handle last week, but came away with only a single point for their efforts.
  5. Fayetteville FireAntz (21-16-3, LW: 5) – The Antz finally dropped a game to the Ice Flyers on a tough weekend away from home.
  6. Louisiana IceGators (20-19-4, LW: 6) – Had it not been for the bus breakdown on the way to Pensacola, they would have had a good shot at moving way up the standings.
  7. Huntsville Havoc (21-20-3, LW: 7) – The Havoc are better than a 1-1-1 home stand. This is not the time of the season to fall into a rut.
  8. Macon Mayhem (18-23-4, LW: 9) – Great road trip by Macon, with a pair of wins against the RiverKings. The return of Garrett Bartus in net is making a big difference.
  9. Columbus Cottonmouths (15-21-6, LW: 8) – Just when we think the Snakes are showing signs of life, they fall flat. This might be the first year Columbus misses the playoffs.

This Week’s Games

Wednesday, March 2

Mississippi at Louisiana

Thursday, March 3

Fayetteville at Knoxville

Friday, March 4

Fayetteville at Knoxville
Pensacola at Peoria

Saturday, March 5

Mississippi at Huntsville
Macon at Columbus
Pensacola at Peoria

Sunday, March 6

Fayetteville at Knoxville
Columbus at Louisiana
Pensacola at Peoria

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