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Familiar foes meet again to start home-and-home series

Game 21: Mississippi RiverKings (7-11-2) vs. Louisiana IceGators (11-7-2)

7:05 p.m., Landers Center, Southaven, Mississippi

The Mississippi RiverKings host the Louisiana IceGators tonight at the Landers Center in the front end of a home-and-home series. The teams will play tomorrow at the Cajundome in Lafayette and face each other in five of the next six games for both teams. Tonight is the fifth of 11 games between the team this season with both sides earning two wins. 

The IceGators enter the match after losing, 7-3, to the Pensacola Ice Flyers Tuesday night. Between now and Jan. 7 the only break from the RiverKings for the IceGators is a match with Columbus Jan. 2.

The RiverKings beat the Huntsville Havoc, 2-1, in a shootout Tuesday and have wins in two of their last three games. However, the RiverKings still have not strung together consecutive wins, going 0-4-2 in games immediately following a win. After this home-and-home series with IceGators the RiverKings go on the road Jan. 2 in Pensacola then play three-in-a-row against Louisiana.

Broadcast Coverage

Hibu RiverKings Pregame at 7:00 p.m.

Radio: Live audio on riverkings.com

Streaming: Pay-to-watch video on SPHL Live

 

Last time out

Adam Courchaine and the RiverKings won a goalie battle with Kevin Genoe and the Huntsville Havoc Tuesday at the Landers Center, coming away with a 2-1 shootout victory.

The Havoc got on the board late in the first period. With the RiverKings on the power play Drew Akins chipped the puck past Matt Harrington and Luke Greiner tracked it down and started a two-on-one breakaway. Greiner elected to shoot from the left circle and he beat Courchaine past the blocker for a 1-0 lead with 2:23 remaining in the first.

Despite building a significant shot advantage in the second period the RiverKings still trailed 1-0 late in the middle stanza. That changed when Harrington forced a turnover on the forecheck behind the net. The puck bounced in front and Matt Whitehead went to the backhand to beat Genoe to tie the game at one with 2:43 left in the second. In the second period alone the RiverKings outshot Huntsville 20-6.

Neither team scored in the third period or overtime and so it went to a shootout, the first of the season for the RiverKings. Harrington put the RiverKings up 1-0 in round two when he scored on the backhand and Courchaine made that stand as the shootout game-winner as he stopped all five Huntsville attempts.

Scouting the IceGators

The IceGators snapped their string of four straight overtime games, in which they went 2-2, by beating the RiverKings, 4-2, Dec. 20. The IceGators then lost to Pensacola, 7-3, Tuesday night. On the season they are 11-7-2, good for 24 points and fourth place in the SPHL. They are 4-4-1 on the road this season and in their last 10 games overall are 6-2-2.

Adam Stuart had a seven-game scoring streak snapped Tuesday, which included five multi-point performances and has him tops on the team with 22 points (9g, 13a). During his seven-game point streak, Stuart had 14 points (6g, 8a) including the game-winning goal against the RiverKings Dec. 20. Two players, Benjamin Rubin (4g, 11a) and Chris Wilson (6g, 9a) are tied with 15 points. Wilson had a goal and assist against the RiverKings Saturday, including a goal on a penalty shot.

Rookies Marco De Filippo and Andrew Flemming have seen significant time in net for the IceGators. De Filippo is 8-3-1 in 13 appearances, posting a 2.78 goals-against average and .904 save percentage. He's made two starts against the RiverKings and is 1-1, allowing three goals on six shots before being replaced Nov. 21 and then stopping 27 of 29 in Saturday's win. Flemming has started two games against the RiverKings, going 1-1 and in nine games this season he is 3-4-1 with a 3.10 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.

Head-to-head

Tonight's game is the fifth of 11 matches between the RiverKings and IceGators. Both teams have two wins in the season series, with Louisiana winning most recently, 4-2, Dec. 20 in Lafayette. On the strength of a 7-2 win in the first meeting of the season the RiverKings have outscored the IceGators 12-8. 

Matt Whitehead (3g, 2a) and Leo Thomas (2g, 3a) lead all scorers with five points in the season series. Whitehead has a plus-6 rating in the four games. Peter Di Salvo and Adam Courchaine have both made two starts in goal against Louisiana. Di Salvo has both wins, allowing three goals in two games while Courchaine has lost twice, giving up just four goals.

For Louisiana Shawn McNeil is the top scorer in the series, collecting three points (3a) in four games. Their two goalies have both made two starts, although Andrew Flemming has appeared in three of the four games because he came in in relief for Marco De Filippo Nov. 21. Flemming is 1-1 with a 2.13 goals-against average and shutout Nov. 25. De Filippo is 1-1 with a 4.31 goals-against average, but he was sharp in their 4-2 win Dec. 20.

Special teams

Louisiana is third in the SPHL on the power play at 17.8% (13-for-73). The IceGators are just sixth on the road though, going 3-for-30 (10.0%). They are 1-for-10 (10.0%) in four games against Mississippi.

The RiverKings power play was 0-for-8 Tuesday against the Havoc, although several of those opportunities last less than 20 seconds because of other penalties. They are still 3-for-23 (13.0%) over the last five games and are now 7-for-83 (8.4%) on the season. That places the RiverKings seventh in the SPHL. Success on the power play has been a good indicator of the team's success on the ice. In seven games when scoring a power-play goal, the RiverKings are 4-1-2.

The IceGators allowed two power-play goals against Pensacola Tuesday in eight shorthanded situations. Because of that they are now 83-for98 (84.7%) on the penalty kill this season, which is tied with the RiverKings for fifth in the SPHL. They have been shorthanded more times (98) than any team in the league.

Mississippi killed off all three power plays Tuesday and are 5-for-5 in the last two games. Overall this season they are 61-for-72 on the penalty kill, which places them fifth in the league at 84.7%. The RiverKings have been strong on the penalty kill at home this season, stopping 87.2% of opponent's power plays (34-of-39), which is the third best at home.

Posted by Lukas Favale at 3:30 PM

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RiverKings vs. Havoc
Tue, Dec. 12 - 10:30 AM

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Schedule

Standings

TEAM GP W L OT PTS
PEO Peoria 16 11 4 1 23
PEN Pensacola 14 10 4 0 20
MRK RiverKings 15 10 5 0 20
EVV Evansville 16 9 5 2 20
HUN Huntsville 14 8 4 2 18
MAC Macon 16 7 5 4 18
KNX Knoxville 14 7 6 1 15
FAY Fayetteville 18 5 9 4 14
RKE Roanoke 15 5 8 2 12
BIR Birmingham 12 3 8 1 7
 
Full Standings

Updated: December 9, 2017