SOUTHAVEN, Miss - The Mississippi RiverKings’ team captain Devin Mantha tied the RiverKings record for the most goals (5) and points (7) scored in one game in last Saturday’s 9-2 victory against the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs. His performance earned him SPHL Player of the Week.
Mantha spent most of the year with the ECHL Fort Wayne Komets where he played in 25 games and scored six points. Since his return with the RiverKings, the team captain has tallied just 21 points in just 10 games. The captain continue to contribute to the team on the ice while maintaining a leadership role.
Q. Devin, talk to me about your five-goal game on Saturday, how did you do it? Was there a vivid moment when you knew you were catching fire?
A. "On the first shift, I scored. It just felt like it was going to be a good night. My first goal came from Moran behind the net and I just touched it into the net. I can’t even remember my second goal. It was all a blur. After the first period and the two goals, guys were joking around and saying 'you’re going to get a hat trick, you’re going to get a hat trick.' After two assists, it finally came in the third."
Q. When have you ever done something like that?
A. "Something like that? Never. I have had a couple hat tricks before. Three since I’ve been here."
Q. Has does it feel to reach such a milestone? Have you had time to reflect?
A. "I haven’t thought about it too much to be honest with you. The lineup and I have been playing well lately. I had four points the previous game and seven before. I think the team is just hot right now."
Q. Is the seven-point game one of your favorite firsts in hockey? Or are there others?
A. "Yeah, it’s up there as one of my most memorable games for sure."
Q. You have been in the league for four years now, What’s the biggest life lesson you have learned playing professional hockey?
A. "You can’t be worried too much about hockey. A lot of young guys take things to heart, but it’s all just a learning lesson. You can’t take things too seriously."
Q. You wear the “C” on your Mississippi RiverKings jersey every night. Describe that role and what kind of captain are you?
A. "Well, we have a diverse team. I think we have a set of 10 rookies and 10 veterans. So, it’s just explaining things, showing the ropes to the young guys, and getting them fired up. I try to keep them focused for every game. You can’t stay too high or too low."
Q. Do you have to speak up to get the team going at all? Or do you lead by example?
A. "I’m really not too vocal most of the time, but I try to pick the right moments to speak when the team needs to hear something. I try to get guys one-on-one. If someone makes a mistake, I’m not going to call him out in front of everyone. I’ll go up to him and say, 'Hey, you can try this next time.' That’s just how I am."
Q. Since you returned from ECHL Fort Wayne, you have scored 20 points in 10 games. Explain the type of chemistry that you can have with the rest of the RiverKings squad and what’s been good for you?
A. "I think the biggest thing is that I like being here. In Fort Wayne, in the next level, I don’t get the ice time that I get here. So, I have to make do with it. When I’m here, I’m happy and I’m just having fun. I’m carefree. It just comes naturally."
Q. How important is that for a player? Knowing that he can play freely?
A. "It is very important. We call it getting into the zone or rhythm. When you’re not playing as much, it’s tough to stay prepared and focused. When you’re going out on the ice regularly, you don’t have to worry about doing something wrong or if another guy will play in front of you. It’s much easier to play and have fun."
Q. Can that chemistry translate to a prosperous playoff run? What do you envision as the key to success?
A. "Absolutely. The playoffs is all about catching fire at the right time. Hopefully, we aren’t peaking right now. We have nice two game win streak going for us right now. Good team defense and getting everyone on the same page is what mostly what the playoffs is about. Just need a good team to push forward."
RiverKings' team captain and veteran Devin Mantha has scored 30 points (15G,15A) in 23 games this season. The forward has appeared in 161 games with Mississippi in four seasons with the team. © Kori Lavire
The RiverKings return the ice to the Landers Center on Friday, March 17 to take on the Pensacola Ice Flyers to take another step to clinch a playoff spot. For ticket and details, visit RiverKings.com or call 662-342-1755
About the Mississippi RiverKings
The RiverKings are supported by our community partners, season ticket holders, fans, and grants from Maddox Foundation, an independent private foundation based in Hernando, Miss. To find out more about the RiverKings, call 662-342-1755 or visit RiverKings.com.