Jake Brenk has come a long way since his days as a linesman in the SPHL five seasons ago. Brenk put on the orange armbands and officiated his first NHL game last Thursday between the Edmonton Oilers and the Arizona Coyotes. Congratulations, Jake, and may you work many more games in the show during your career.
The SPHL’s crackdown on unsafe play continues as the league handed down a pair of suspensions this week. Mississippi RiverKings’ captain Leo Thomas was given nine games for a stick to the throat of Pensacola’s Cole Ruwe and Peoria’s Matt Summers got two games for boarding Knoxville’s Todd Hosmer from behind. The Fayetteville FireAntz put their perfect record on the line in Louisiana, but did not escape unscathed.
Columbus Cottonmouths (1-4-3)
Last week: 1-1-1. Goaltender Shannon Szabados was given the weekend off so she could fulfill some promotional obligations with her teammates from Team Canada, so the Snakes signed Andrew Loewen as an emergency backup to Brandon Jaeger in net. Jaeger was rocked for six goals in Huntsville as the Snakes fell to the Havoc in a penalty-filled game, 6-4. However, Jaeger bounced back on Sunday in Macon with a 42 save performance to win their first game of the season. The Cottonmouths beat the Mayhem, 3-2, in a game that had to be settled with penalty shots. Left winger Louis Belisle had a great week with two goals and two assists in the Snakes’ three games this week. Belisle was no angel, though, as he earned an ejection in the game against Huntsville for elbowing.
This week: Friday, 11/20 vs Fayetteville; Saturday, 11/21 at Knoxville.
Fayetteville FireAntz (5-1-0)
Last week: 1-1-0. The FireAntz took the long trip west to Louisiana for a weekend series against the IceGators, and came within a second of getting swept on the road. Fayetteville lost to Louisiana in Saturday night’s opener, 4-2, and Derek Elliott scored with seven-tenths of a second remaining in regulation to force overtime on Sunday. Kyle Gibbons would eventually net the game winner in the extra frame to salvage the weekend for the Antz.
This week: Friday, 11/20 at Columbus; Saturday, 11/21 at Macon.
Huntsville Havoc (4-3-0)
Last week: 2-0-0. Huntsville opened up their home schedule last Tuesday with a bang by shutting out the defending champion Knoxville Ice Bears, 4-0. The league leading team in penalty minutes lived up to expectations on Friday night with a 62-PIM slugfest with the Cottonmouths. The Havoc won the war along with the battles against the Snakes in a 6-4 victory. The Havoc are now averaging 42.4 penalty minutes a game – more than double the league average. Center Steve Mele’s excellent play (2G, 1A this week) earned him a return to the ECHL with the Norfolk Admirals.
This week: Tuesday, 11/17 at Knoxville; Friday, 11/20 vs Pensacola; Saturday, 11/21 vs Pensacola.
Knoxville Ice Bears (4-3-1)
Last week: 1-1-1. Goaltender Braely Torris had mixed results in his two starts this week for the Ice Bears. Torris got rocked for four goals on Tuesday night in Huntsville, then turned in his best start of the season with a 35-save performance in Peoria on Sunday despite losing in overtime to the Rivermen, 3-2. Bryan Hince got the Bears’ lone win of the week with a lot of offensive help on Friday night as Knoxville outscored Pensacola, 6-4.
This week: Tuesday, 11/17 vs Huntsville; Friday, 11/20 at Mississippi; Saturday, 11/21 vs Columbus
Louisiana IceGators (2-3-2)
Last week: 1-0-1. The struggling IceGators offense came to life for twenty minutes on Saturday night. The Gators scored three goals in the third period and handed the visiting Fayetteville FireAntz their first loss of the season, 4-2. Louisiana goaltender Adam Courchaine came within a second of shutting out the FireAntz before Fayetteville’s Derek Elliott sent the game into overtime. The Antz controlled the extra five-minute period and scored the game winner to avoid the sweep by the IceGators. Louisiana’s power play woes continued, going 0-for-11 this weekend and 1-for-31 this season with the extra man advantage.
This week: Friday, 11/20 at Peoria; Saturday, 11/21 at Peoria; Sunday, 11/22 at Peoria.
Macon Mayhem (2-4-3)
Last week: 1-2-1. The Mayhem played four games in six nights and split a pair of overtime games with Columbus, but lost decisively to league powers Mississippi and Pensacola. On Tuesday in Columbus, Alex Labonte would score on an overtime breakaway to beat the Snakes, 3-2. The RiverKings would end the Mayhem’s two-game win streak with a five goal, 43 shot onslaught on goalie Garrett Bartus in Macon on Friday night. The Ice Flyers visited the following night with similar results, as Pensacola defeated the Mayhem, 4-1, compliments of a Corey Banfield hat trick. The Mayhem would drop their third in a row and give the Cottonmouths their first victory of the season in a 3-2 shootout loss. The Mayhem sent winger John Schiavo up to the ECHL Missouri Mavericks and replaced by Shawn Skelly – late of the Ice Bears.
This week: Saturday, 11/21 vs Fayetteville.
Mississippi RiverKings (6-2-0)
Last week: 1-1-0. The RiverKings lost more than a game on Wednesday night against Pensacola. During the 3-2 loss to the Ice Flyers, captain Leo Thomas was ejected for a vicious spear on Pensacola defenseman Cole Ruwe. The SPHL office handed down their longest suspension of the season to Thomas, benching him for nine games. The RiverKings responded to the loss of their captain with an inspired 5-2 victory against the Mayhem. Thomas is eligible to return to the lineup on December 11th at Peoria.
This week: Friday, 11/20 vs Knoxville
Pensacola Ice Flyers (5-3-0)
Last week: 2-1-0. Pensacola won a dramatic 3-2 come-from-behind victory on Wednesday night against the RiverKings, but lost on the road Friday night against the Ice Bears in David Segal’s return to Knoxville, where the enforcer played for seven seasons. The following night, Pensacola bounced back against the Mayhem, winning 4-1 with the help of Corey Banfield’s hat trick.
This week: Friday, 11/20 at Huntsville, Saturday, 11/21 at Huntsville
Peoria Rivermen (5-2-0)
Last week: 1-0-0. Jake Trask had a goal and an assist, Alex Hagaman scored the tying goal in the second period, and Garrett Vermeersch scored 1:16 into overtime on Saturday night to defeat the Ice Bears, 3-2. Kyle Rank had 28 saves in picking up his third straight win. The Rivermen have a four game win streak heading into this weekend’s three-game rematch with the IceGators. Winger Matt Summers was served with a two-game suspension by the league for a boarding hit during Saturday’s game against Knoxville. Summers should return for Sunday’s series finale against Louisiana.
This week: Friday, 11/20 vs Louisiana; Saturday, 11/21 vs Louisiana; Sunday, 11/22 vs Louisiana
Our Three Stars of the Week
★★★ – Devin Mantha, Center, Mississippi RiverKings – Mantha was named the SPHL’s Easton Player of the Week with four points (2G,2A) in the Kings’ two games this week. Mantha netted a shorthanded goal, and had a +3 rating.
★★ – Zach Carriveau, Defenseman, Fayetteville FireAntz – Carriveau was a rock on the blue line with a +4 rating against the IceGators this weekend, and contributed a goal and three assists. Two of his helpers on Sunday were on game-tying and game-winning goals.
★ – Corey Banfield, Left Wing, Pensacola IceFlyers – Banfield set up the game winning goal on Wednesday against Mississippi, and scored a hat trick against Macon. The winger finished the week with three goals and three assists in the Flyers’ three games this week.
The Sin Bin’s Power Rankings
- Peoria Rivermen (5-2-0, LW: 1) – The Rivs are rolling on a four-game winning streak, and have the next five games on home ice against Louisiana and Macon.
- Mississippi RiverKings (6-2-0, LW: 2) – How will the loss of captain Leo Thomas for their next eight games affect them?
- Pensacola Ice Flyers (5-3-0, LW: 4) – The Ice Flyers have their offense in gear, but their goaltending will need to step up against Kevin Genoe and the Havoc.
- Fayetteville FireAntz (5-1-0, LW: 3) – Fayetteville struggled to get in gear against the Gators, and came within a second of getting swept.
- Knoxville Ice Bears (4-3-1, LW: 5) – Inconsistency is defining this team early in the season. Either the Bears are feasting, or in hibernation.
- Huntsville Hacoc (4-3-0, LW: 6) – This team is winning the battles, but can they continue to win despite all the penalties?
- Louisiana IceGators (2-3-2, LW: 7) – Special teams is still a sore spot, as Louisiana went 0-for-11 on the power play last week.
- Macon Mayhem (2-4-3, LW: 8) – Need a “bounce back” game? Play the Mayhem.
- Columbus Cottonmouths (1-4-3, LW: 9) – Just like last season, it took the Snakes eight games to get their first win.