RiverKings blend education and hockey in second FaceOff Field Trip

Game 35: Mississippi RiverKings (17-15-2) vs. Columbus Cottonmouths (19-12-0)

10:35 a.m., Landers Center, Southaven, Mississippi

The Mississippi RiverKings keep their busy January rolling with their second FaceOff Field Trip of the season as they host the Columbus Cottonmouths at 10:35 a.m. It’s the fourth of five matches between the teams this season. The Cottonmouths have won two out of three, incluidng the last two by 3-2 scores. One of those games went to overtime.

The Cottonmouths went 1-1 last week in a home-and-home series against Knoxville. They lost, 4-1, Friday in Knoxville and won, 5-2, the next night in Columbus. They have a pair of home games following their trip to Southaven. They host Fayetteville Friday and Louisiana Saturday.

The RiverKings have already played 12 games in January and are 8-4-0 in the month. They went 1-1 last week against Peoria, losing the first game Friday, 4-1, and winning Saturday, 4-2. The RiverKings conclude the month with two games later this week. They host Penscola Friday for Heroes Night at the Landers Center then travel to Huntsville for a match with the Havoc Saturday.


Broadcast Coverage

Hibu RiverKings Pregame at 10:30 a.m.

Radio: Live audio on riverkings.com

Streaming: Pay-to-watch video on SPHL Live 

Last time out

The RiverKings scored two shorthanded goals and held off a late charge by the Peoria Rivermen to win, 4-2, at the Landers Center Saturday.

Mississippi got its first shorthanded goal at 12:22 of the first period. Leo Thomas deflected a pass in the defensive zone, picked up the puck and started a 2-on-1 with Paul Ciarelli. Thomas went down the left wing and elected to shoot from the left circle for a 1-0 lead. Ciarelli added two goals in the second period to put the RiverKings up 3-0. On both goal Ciarelli potted rebounds created on shots from Joey Holka and the RiverKings had a three-goal lead at 15:39 of the middle period.

Peoria gained momentum late in the second when Jake Trask scored a power-play goal with 57 seconds left in the period. The Rivermen made it a one-goal game at 8:02 of the third as Jordan Sims buried a rebound to make it 3-2. The RiverKings reclaimed their two-goal lead when Reid Campbell scored the team’s second shorthanded goal of the game at 12:16 of the third, making it a 4-2 final.

Scouting the Cottonmouths

Columbus split a home-and-home series with Knoxville last week and is 7-3-0 in their last 10 games. At 19-12-0 the Cottonmouths are in fourth place in the SPHL. They are just four points our of first place and also just two points ahead of the RiverKings, who are in sixth.

Matt Gingera is the leading scorer for Columbus with 31 points (19g, 12a) in 29 games. He has a league-high eight power-play goals and is tied for the league’s best with five game-winning goals. He has points in just four of the last nine games, but all of those are multi-point games, totaling 10 points (4g, 6a). Bryce Williamson is second with 29 points (13g, 16a) in 29 games and he has 10 power-play points (2g, 8a). Neilsson Arcibal rounds out the top three with 24 points (7g, 17a).

In net Andrew Loewen and Shannon Szabados have mainly split time, with Loewen appearing in 18 games and Szabados getting in 13 games. Loewen tied an SPHL record for consecutive wins with 12 from Nov. 22-Jan. 18. His streak was broken with a 4-1 loss to Knoxville Jan. 23 and he is 12-6-0 on the season with a 2.11 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. Szabados is 7-6-0 on the season with a 3.36 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage.

Special teams

The Cottonmouths power play has significantly improved after a slow start to the season and they are now sixth in the SPHL at 11.8% (18-for-152). The Cottonmouths have been up a man more often than any team in the league. Although the power play has improved, Columbus has still allowed a league-high six shorthanded goals.

The RiverKings power play is seventh in the SPHL at 10.7% (15-for-140) after going 0-for-7 Saturday night. They have power-play goals in just two of the last nine games, although they have scored four power-play goals in those two games. They are considerably better at home than on the road. At the Landers Center they are 11-for-87 (12.6%), while they are just 4-for-53 (7.5%) on the road.

Columbus ranks third in the SPHL on the penalty kill at 85.4% (105-for-123). They were 5-for-6 (83.3%) in two games against Knoxville over the weekend, going 3-for-3 in their win Saturday. The Cottonmouths have the best penalty kill on the road, stopping 88.4% (61-for-69) of opponent’s power plays.

Although the RiverKings penalty kill has slumped to eighth in the SPHL at 82.4% (98-for-119) they have scored three shorthanded goals in the last five games. They were 3-for-4 on the kill in both games against Peoria last weekend and have allowed power-play goals in three of the last five games.

Posted by Lukas Favale at 9:00 AM

Next Game

Thank You, Fans!



PEO y-Peoria 56 38 13 5 81
MAC x-Macon 56 33 16 7 73
PEN x-Pensacola 56 33 16 7 73
HUN x-Huntsville 56 30 16 10 70
KNX x-Knoxville 56 30 20 6 66
EVV x-Evansville 56 27 20 9 63
MRK x-RiverKings 56 29 25 2 60
RKE x-Roanoke 56 26 26 4 56
BIR Birmingham 56 22 28 6 50
FAY Fayetteville 56 12 38 6 30
Full Standings

Updated: April 8, 2018

x-Clinched Playoff Berth
y-Clinched Regular Season Title