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Improvements for RiverKings in 2013-14

By: Will Wodka
media@riverkings.com
April 8, 2014

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. -- The Mississippi RiverKings saw their hopes of capturing the SPHL’s Presidents Cup end last Sunday with a loss against the Huntsville Havoc. Although the season ended too soon for the team, the RiverKings can look back on what was a successful 2013-14 season.

After suffering a loss to the Louisiana IceGators to open the season, the RiverKings went on to record nine wins in the month of November, including a stretch of seven straight with points. The RiverKings finished the season 10 games over .500, giving them their best record since entering the SPHL in 2011.

With one of the best goalie tandems in the league throughout the season, RiverKings goaltenders Matt Krahn and Dan McWhinney combined to give up 150 goals, the third-fewest in the league. The two also gave the RiverKings a fighting chance in the third, stopping 92% of shots faced in the final frame. McWhinney credits his success between the pipes to having a good friendship and strategy with Krahn.

“We hung out quite a bit, and Krahn is a really good guy. Its been probably the best relationship I have had in my career with another goaltender,” said McWhinney. “The game-in-game-out system worked phenomenally and not too many teams are able to throw in either goaltender on any other night and have as much success as we did.”

As the goalies stood tall, the RiverKings offense found the back of the net often, registering five or more goals in ten games this season, including a league-high nine against the Peoria Rivermen on November 1. Much of the offense came from the top line of Leo Thomas, Todd Hosmer and Matt Whitehead, who combined for 150 points this season. Thomas’ veteran presence earned him the role of captain and allowed him to help the younger guys develop.

“It was great working with these guys and watching them grow from their first game to the playoffs and be huge parts for this team,” said Thomas. “I learn something new everyday from these kids and I always go in just wanting to help out wherever I can and let them know if they ever needed anything, I am there.”

Thomas’ guidance helped maintain the RiverKings’ special teams production, scoring 10 shorthanded goals, up from last year’s nine, while giving up the league’s fewest for the second year in a row. As a team, the RiverKings killed off 85.2% of their penalties this season, ranking them third in the league; up from a year ago where the teams’ 83.6% placed them sixth in the league. The RiverKings road power play unit also excelled, scoring a league-best 30 man-advantage goals.

While taking advantage of quieting the crowd on the road, the RiverKings enjoyed the energy the fans brought into the Landers Center and lifted their home record from 14-10-4 a year ago to 16-8-4 this season.
“We had some great crowds throughout the season who really brought the energy to the building. That definitely helped us on the ice,” said Randazzo. “We appreciate the fans for all they have done. We just wish we could have brought a championship here for them.”

Although unable to achieve their ultimate goal as a team, the RiverKings’ individual success was recognized with three call-ups and end of year awards this season. Daniel Sobotka and Charles Lachance earned ice time in the CHL with the St. Charles Chill, while Hosmer saw time with the Greenville Road Warriors of the ECHL. All-Rookie honors were sent to Mike Grace, who registered the second most power play assists among rookies. Randazzo and Hosmer earned their spots on the First-SPHL team.

“When you look at the season as a whole, a lot of personal goals were met, and we stayed atop the league for much of the season,” third-year Head Coach Derek Landmesser said. “It really speaks volumes for the kind of team we had.”

While the season has ended, it may be tempting to already look ahead to what 2014-15 may bring, but let’s not forget what we just said goodbye to: a fun team to watch.

About the Mississippi RiverKings
The Mississippi RiverKings are supported by our community partners, season ticket holders, fans and grants from the Maddox Foundation, an independent private foundation based in Hernando, Miss. To find out more about the RiverKings, call 662.342.1755 or visit www.riverkings.com.
Posted by David Schmoll at 3:35 PM

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TEAM GP W L OT PTS
PEN Pensacola 16 12 4 0 24
PEO Peoria 16 11 4 1 23
HUN Huntsville 15 9 4 2 20
MRK RiverKings 16 10 6 0 20
EVV Evansville 16 9 5 2 20
MAC Macon 16 7 5 4 18
KNX Knoxville 15 7 7 1 15
FAY Fayetteville 18 5 9 4 14
RKE Roanoke 15 5 8 2 12
BIR Birmingham 13 3 9 1 7
 
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Updated: December 12, 2017