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RiverKings and IceGators wrap up season series

Game 43: Mississippi RiverKings (25-15-2) vs. Louisiana IceGators (20-16-7)

7:05 p.m., Cajundome, Lafayette, Louisiana

The Mississippi RiverKings start a three-in-three, which they will play in three different cities, with the final match of the season series against the Louisiana IceGators. The RiverKings have seven wins in the first 10 games of the series, including four out of six at the Cajundome.

The IceGators enter the week having lost six straight games (0-5-1), which includes a loss to the RiverKings last week at the Cajundome. They finished last week with a shootout loss in Columbus against the Cottonmouths Feb. 21 after giving up the tying goal late in the third period. The IceGators, like the RiverKings, play a three-in-three; they host the Ice Flyers tomorrow and then return to Columbus Saturday.

The RiverKings have won nine straight games and 13 of their last 14, after opening the week with Tuesday's 4-0 win over Pensacola. They now have back-to-back shutout wins–they beat Huntsville, 3-0, Feb. 21–after going the first 40 games of the season without one. After tonight's game against the IceGators the RiverKings have two more road matches this week, one in Columbus tomorrow and in Knoxville Saturday.

Broadcast Coverage

Hibu RiverKings Pregame at 7:00 p.m.

Radio: Sports 56/87.7 FM

Streaming: Pay-to-watch video on SPHL Live 

Last time out

Peter Di Salvo stopped all 39 shots he faced to pace the RiverKings to their ninth straight win, 4-0, Tuesday night against the Pensacola Ice Flyers at the Landers Center. It was Di Salvo's second consecutive shutout win for the RiverKings, after he stopped 26 shots against Huntsville Saturday.

Leo Thomas got the RiverKings on the board early in the first when he deflected an Andrew Randazzo shot past Max Strang for a 1-0 lead at 4:29. Thomas doubled the lead when he stashed in a rebound at the left post at 12:07, giving the RiverKings a 2-0 lead. The Ice Flyers had five power plays in the first period, including a full two-minute 5-on-3, but they came up empty on each one.

The RiverKings, who didn't have a power play in the first, took advantage of both of theirs in the second to go up 4-0. First Sean Jones capitalized on a rebound created from a Dan Delisle one-timer from the slot at 1:52. Then at 19:01 Linden Bahm tapped in a Matt Whitehead pass for his fifth power-play goal of the season, which leads the team. Di Salvo was strong in the third to nail down his second straight shutout.

Head-to-head

Tonight is the final of 11 matches between the teams this season. The RiverKings have already secured the win in the series, holding 7-3-0 record against the IceGators. They are 4-2-0 at the Cajundome.

21 players have recorded at least a point for the RiverKings against the IceGators in the season series with Matt Whitehead leading all scorers with 11 points (3g, 8a). Leo Thomas is second with nine points (4g, 5a) and three players follow with seven points each. Six different players have scored a game-winning goal against the IceGators and Linden Bahm is only RiverKings player with two, including one Feb. 20. Adam Courchaine and Peter Di Salvo have split action against Louisiana. Courchaine is 3-3-0 with a 2.43 goals-against average and an .896 save percentage in six games and Di Salvo is 4-0-0 with a 2.33 goals-against average and .908 save percentage.

Shawn McNeil leads the IceGators with eight points (1g, 7a) in 10 games. Adam Stuart (3g, 4a) and Luke Kasteel (1g, 6a) are tied for second with seven points against the RiverKings. In net Marco De Fillipo has appeared in six games against the RiverKings and is 2-3-1 with a 2.88 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage.

Scouting the IceGators

The IceGators have lost six straight games, their longest losing streak of the season, and only have a point in the last one after they lost in a shootout to Columbus Feb. 21. On the season the IceGators are 20-16-7 and have dropped to sixth place with 47 points. They are just four points ahead of Fayetteville for the final playoff spot and the FireAntz have a game in hand on the IceGators. Louisiana trails the RiverKings by three points for fifth place.

Adam Stuart leads the IceGators in scoring with 44 points (16g,28a) in 40 games. He is tied for the team lead with four game-winning and also leads the team with 11 power-play points. Chris Wilson is second on the team with 37 points (15g, 22a), including eight power-play points. Jake Hauswirth (16g, 17a) has surged to third on the team with 33 points in just 24 games. Hauswirth had a 12-game scoring streak, during which he scored 18 points, snapped Feb. 6. It tied Knoxville's Eric Satim for the longest streak in the league this season. Since then he has started a five-game scoring streak and he has points in 21 of the 24 games he's played. The RiverKings are the only team to hold him in check as three of those scoreless games have come against Mississippi.

The IceGators have used both goaltenders recently, although Marco De Filippo played in all three games for Louisiana last week. On the season De Filippo has appeared in 30 games and is 14-8-5 with a 3.17 goal-against average and a .899 save percentage. Matt Zenzola, who was acquired in a trade with Pensacola Jan. 8, has appeared in eight games with the IceGators and is 3-2-1 with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.

Special teams

The IceGators rank fourth overall on the power play in the SPHL at 16.9% (24-for-142), although they were 0-for-7 in three games last week. During their current six-game losing streak the IceGators are 1-for-19 (5.3%). Their only power-play goal in the last six games came Feb. 14 against Knoxville.

The RiverKings have scored power-play goals in five straight games and seven of their last eight games, going 9-for-24 (37.5%). They're up to sixth in the SPHL at 14.6% (24-for-164). The RiverKings remain stronger on the power play at home as opposed to on the road. At home the RiverKings are 16-for-100 (16.0%), while on the road they are just 8-for-64 (12.5%).

On the penalty kill, the IceGators are second in the SPHL at 84.2% (154-for-183). Over the last six games the IceGators are 12-for-18 (66.7%) on the kill. They have similar numbers both at home (84.7%) and on the road (83.5%), ranking fifth and fourth respectively in the SPHL in both categories. The IceGators have given up the second most power-play goals (29) in the league, only behind Fayetteville's 36.

The RiverKings penalty kill jumped from sixth to second in the SPHL after Tuesday's 5-for-5 against Pensacola. They have successfully killed 84.5% (120-for-142). They are a perfect 17-for-17 in the last seven games and are 22-for-23 in the last eight games. This is the best stretch of the season for the RiverKings penalty killing unit. 

Posted by Lukas Favale at 2:30 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