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RiverKings host Cottonmouths in final game of home-and-home

Game 12: Mississippi RiverKings (4-5-2) vs. Columbus Cottonmouths (5-7-0)

7:05 p.m., Landers Center, Southaven, Miss.

The Mississippi RiverKings and Columbus Cottonmouths wrap up their home-and-home series Saturday at the Landers Center as the RiverKings hold Mustache Awareness Night. The game concludes four games in five days for both teams sandwiched around a brief Thanksgiving holiday.

The Cottonmouths, who beat the RiverKings in overtime, 3-2, last night have won their last five games, including three past regulation, to surge from last to fifth in the standing.

The RiverKings picked up three of a possible four points in the two game road trip, winning in Louisiana then losing in overtime in Columbus. They are 1-1-1 in the first three games of this four in five.

Broadcast Coverage

Hibu RiverKings Pregame at 7:00 p.m.

Radio: Live audio available through riverkings.com

Streaming: Pay-to-watch video on SPHL Live

Last time out

The RiverKings rallied from behind in the third period, but eventually lost in overtime, 3-2, to Columbus last night at the Columbus Civic Center. 

The Cottonmouths scored first just 4:55 into the opening period. Nick Curry sent a pass in front, which deflected in off Shawn Bates for a 1-0 Columbus lead. The game remained 1-0 into the third period, the third straight game the RiverKings entered the third down 1-0.

Like they did Wednesday in Louisiana the RiverKings rallied in the third. They evened the score at one with a power-play goal by Cody Dion just 5:39 into the third. Then just 33 seconds later Dylan Quaile scored to make it 2-1 RiverKings. The Cottonmouths answered about three minutes later when Neilsson Arcibal flipped a shot past Adam Courchaine to tie it 2-2. The game went to overtime, where Matt Gingera jammed in a loose puck at the post just 23 seconds into overtime. 

Third-period Rallies

Entering the week the RiverKings were 0-4-0 when trailing after two periods. That record has been put to the test in all three games already this week, as the RiverKings have trailed 1-0 entering the third period in each game. 

The RiverKings lost Tuesday, 1-0, to drop to 0-5-0 in those situations. Things changed Wednesday when the RiverKings rallied in the third with three unanswered goals to beat Louisiana, 3-1, and earn their first third period comeback win of the season, improving to 1-5-0.

Last night the RiverKings faced an all too familiar situation and again rallied with two goals in 40 seconds to go ahead 2-1. The Cottonmouths came back to tie the game and eventually win in overtime, but the RiverKings earned a point for their third period rally. They are now 1-5-1 in games they trail after the second period.

Scouting the Cottonmouths

After an 0-7-0 start to the season the Cottonmouths have quickly turned things around with five straight wins, including three in overtime. At 5-7-0 they have 10 points, which places them fifth in the SPHL. 

Matt Gingera leads the Cottonmouths in scoring with 10 points (8g, 2a) in 10 games. He scored the game-winning goal in overtime last night against the RiverKings and has three of the team's five game winners. He has three points in two games against Mississippi. Neilsson Arcibal is second in scoring with nine points (6g, 3a) in 12 games. Nick Curry (3g, 4a) and Bryce Williamson (2g, 5a) are tied for third with seven points apiece.

In net Andrew Loewen won his third straight game last night and improved to 3-5-0 in eight games this season. He has a 2.64 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. Shannon Szabados, who is expected to start today, is 2-2-0 in four starts this year. She has a 3.45 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.

Head-to-head

Today is the second straight match between the RiverKings and Cottonmouths and the third of five total head-to-head meetings this season. Both sides have a win in the series, with the RiverKings winning, 5-2, Nov. 14 at the Landers Center and Columbus winning, 3-2, in overtime last night.

Matt Harrington leads the RiverKings with three points (1g, 2a) in the two matches, although all three points came in the first game. Three RiverKings skaters-Justin Gvora, Matt Whitehead and Devin Mantha-have two points each in the series. The Cottonmouths are led by Matt Gingera's three points (2g, 1a). Louis Belise and Nick Curry are second with two points each against the RiverKings.

In net both teams have played both of their goaltenders. In the first game Peter Di Salvo got the best of Shannon Szabados. That is expected to be the goalie matchup again today. Last night Andrew Loewen defeated Adam Courchaine, who started for the RiverKings.

Special Teams

Columbus has the league's least successful power play to date. After an 0-for-5 yesterday the Cottonmouths now sit at 4-for-59 (6.8%) on the season. No team has fewer power-play goals than their four. They have also allowed three shorthanded goals, the most in the league.

The RiverKings snapped a three-game power-play drought by going 1-for-4 with the man advantage last night. They are now 4-for-43 (9.3%) on the power play this season, placing them seventh in the league. 

The Cottonmouths also have the league's worst penalty kill in the SPHL. They're allowed a league-high 12 power-play goals and are killing just 75.0% (36-for-48) of opposing power plays in 2014-15.

Mississippi has successfully killed off 12 of their last 13 penalties in the last four games. They were 5-for-5 last night against the Cottonmouths and are now 30-for-35 (85.7%) on the penalty kill this season. They've been shorthanded fewer times than every team in the league.

Posted by Lukas Favale at 4:00 PM

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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