RiverKings go for 20th win vs. Havoc

Game 37: Mississippi RiverKings (19-15-2) vs. Huntsville Havoc (5-22-5)

7:30 p.m., Von Braun Center, Huntsville, Alabama

The Mississippi RiverKings finish off January with one final road game as they face the Huntsville Havoc while searching for their 20th win of the season. It's the fifth of eight matches between the teams this season with the RiverKings winning four of the first five. They have won the last two, including a 2-1 win Jan. 18 in Huntsville. The teams next play Feb. 17 at the Landers Center.

The Havoc have lost eight straight games (0-7-1), including last night's 3-2 loss against Knoxville. Tonight is the final game of a six-game homestand and they are sill searching for their first win. Huntsville's last win came Jan. 8, a 4-2 win in Knoxville.

The RiverKings have already played 14 games in January and are 10-4-0 in the month. They went 1-1 last week against Peoria and now have two wins in two games this week. They beat Columbus, 5-1, Tuesday morning and thrashed Pensacola, 6-2, last night. They have outscored opponents 11-3 this week. Mississippi will open February with a home-and-home series against the Ice Flyers starting next Friday in Pensacola.

Broadcast Coverage

Hibu RiverKings Pregame at 7:25 p.m.

Radio: Sports 56/87.7 FM

Streaming: Pay-to-watch video on SPHL Live 

Last time out

The RiverKings rallied from an early 1-0 deficit and rolled with six straight goals to a 6-2 win over the Pensacola Ice Flyers at the Landers Center Friday night. The gave the RiverKings three straight wins and victories in seven of their last eight games. 

Nick McParland gave the Ice Flyers an early lead just 1:47 into the first on a one-timer from the slot, but after that the RiverKings dominated Pensacola. Sean Jones got the equalizer a few minutes later, firing home a big rebound created by a Bryon Paulazzo slap shot from the top of the left circle. Less than five minutes later Joey Holka jammed in a loose puck in the crease to give the RiverKings a 2-1 lead at 9:18. Then with two minutes left in the first Andrew Randazzo finished a backdoor pass by Matt Whitehead to make it 3-1 and chase goalie Max Strang from the game. 14 seconds after that Luke Warner scored his first goal with the RiverKings to make it 4-1 heading to the first intermission.

The RiverKings extended their lead with two more goals in the second. First Ryan Marcuz snapped a right circle shot directly after a faceoff win to make it 5-1 at 6:53. Later in the period Linden Bahm scored the only power-play goal of the game, a 5-on-3 goal, off a pass from Whitehead. Justin Alonzo scored for Pensacola in the third, but Peter Di Salvo made 14 saves in the final period and 27 in total for a 6-2 win.

A January to remember 

With the win over Pensacola last night the RiverKings are now 10-4-0 in January, their most jam-packed month of the season. The RiverKings play their 15th and final game of the month tonight in Huntsville. Mississippi entered the month with a 9-11-2 record and were in seventh place in the SPHL and were 14 points behind first place Pensacola. They dropped the first game of January to the Ice Flyers and fell 16 points out of first. 

Since then they have gone 10-3-0 and jumped from seventh to fifth, moving two points ahead of Pensacola, an 18-point swing in less than 30 days. They have moved within six points of Knoxville for first place in the league. 

During January the RiverKings have defeated every opponent in the SPHL expect Knoxville, who the RiverKings did not play, at least once. They defeated Peoria three times, Louisiana two times, Fayetteville two times, and Pensacola, Columbus and Huntsville one time apiece with one final game against the Havoc tonight. 

Scouting the Havoc 

Huntsville has lost seven straight games (0-7-1) and the Havoc are 1-8-1 in their last 10, dropping to 5-22-5 on the season. They have just two wins over the last 26 games since Nov. 21 and with 15 points they are in last place in the SPHL.

Drew Akins is Huntsville's top scorer with 24 points (10g, 14a) in 35 games. He has 13 points (8g, 5a) in 17 games since being acquired from the Ice Flyers. Stuart Stefan is second on the team with 20 points (6g, 14a), which is fourth among defensemen. Matt Viola, another mid-season acquisition, is third with 20 points (3g, 17a), with six points (1g, 5a) coming in nine games with Huntsville.

Kevin Genoe and Jesse Kallechy have split time in goal this season. Genoe is 4-10-3 in 17 games and has a 2.84 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. Meanwhile Kallechy is 1-12-2 with a 3.04 goals-against average and an .893 save percentage. He hasn't won since Nov. 15, going 0-10-2 in 12 starts since then.

Special teams

Huntsville's power play is last in the SPHL at 9.5% (11-for-116) and they have the fewest number of power-play goals in the league with 11. The RiverKings are the next closest with 17. The Havoc are just 4-for-57 (7.0%) at home this season.

The RiverKings power play is seventh in the SPHL at 11.4% (17-for-149). They have power-play goals in three of their last four games, going 3-for-21 (14.3%). The RiverKings remain considerably better on the power play while home than on the road. At the Landers Center they are 13-for-96 (13.5%), while they are just 4-for-53 (7.5%) on the road.

Hunsville's penalty kill is fifth in the league at 83.8% (98-for-117) after going 3-for-3 last night against Knoxville. The Havoc have the second best home penalty kill, stopping 44-of-50 power play chances at the Von Braun Center, which is 88.0%.

The RiverKings moved up to seventh on the penalty kill after stopping the three Ice Flyers power plays last night. They are 106-for-128 (82.8%) this season, but just 80.4% (45-for-56) on the road, which is last in the SPHL.

Posted by Lukas Favale at 3:00 PM

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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