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RiverKings open 2015 in Pensacola

Game 23: Mississippi RiverKings (9-11-2) vs. Pensacola Ice Flyers (15-4-4)

7:05 p.m., Pensacola Bay Center, Pensacola, Florida

The Mississippi RiverKings carry a three-game winning streak as they enter 2015 and face the Pensacola Ice Flyers on the road for their first test of the new year. Tonight is the sixth of 10 matches between the teams this season. The Ice Flyers have won four of the first five, but three of those wins came by one goal margins. They don’t play again until Jan. 30 at the Landers Center.


The Ice Flyers went 2-1-0 last week and have won three of their last four. The rounded out last week with a 3-2 win in Huntsville Dec. 27. After tonight’s game against the RiverKings the Ice Flyers host the Columbus Cottonmouths at the Pensacola Bay Center tomorrow night. 

The RiverKings have a season-high three-game winning streak after winning three games last week. They swept a home-and-home series with Louisiana to finish the week and after tonight’s game with the Ice Flyers the RiverKings begin another home-in-home with the IceGators. It’s starts at the Landers Center tomorrow night before shifting to the Cajundome Sunday.

Broadcast Coverage

Hibu RiverKings Pregame at 7:00 p.m.

Radio: Live audio Sports 56/87.7FM

Streaming: Pay-to-watch video on SPHL Live

Last time out

In another back-and-forth game the RiverKings prevailed, 3-2, over the Louisiana IceGators Dec. 27 at the Cajundome. Linden Bahm scored the game-winning goal in the third period to give the RiverKings their first three-game winning streak of the season.

After a scoreless first period the IceGators grabbed a 1-0 lead at 8:20 when Adam Stuart blasted a power-play goal. The lead lasted for just 20 seconds before the RiverKings tied the game at one. Luke Warner sent the puck towards the front from the right circle and Dylan Quaile redirected it past goalie Andrew Flemming. Mississippi got the lead at 14:41 of the second as Sean Jones scored his first goal of the season. While on the power play he took a shot from the bottom of the right circle and it bounced in off an IceGators player. That lead only lasted about 1:20 before Tyler Klein pulled the IceGators into a 2-2 tie.

The RiverKings got the only goal of the third period to get the win. Devin Mantha and Dan Delisle battled for the puck near the left circle and it ended up in front. Bahm swooped around the net, picked it up and roofed a backhand shot to give the RiverKings a 3-2 lead. The RiverKings gave up just five shots in the third period and Adam Courchaine stopped them all for the win.

Scouting the Ice Flyers

With a 15-4-4 record the Ice Flyers have 34 points, which paces the SPHL. They have a four point lead over Peoria and Knoxville for the top spot in the league. They are especially tough at home, where they have a 10-2-1 record. Pensacola split a pair of games in Huntsville to wrap up last week, dropping a 6-1 game Dec. 26 before rebounding with a 3-2 win the next night.

The Ice Flyers have the top three scorers in the SPHL. Corey Banfield leads the way with 34 points (10g, 24a) and he leads the league in assists. Right behind him are Adam Pawlick (20g, 11a) and Cody Ferriero (13g, 18a) who both have 31 points. Pawlick is the league’s top goal scorer. Banfield is the top scorer in the season series with the RiverKings, posting six points (3g, 3a) in five games with two game-winning goals.

In net the Ice Flyers got good news when starter Max Strang was returned from loan by ECHL-Greenville yesterday. In 18 games Strang was 13-2-3 for the Ice Flyers with a 2.03 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. The last remaining goalie on the roster is Matt Zenzola, who has just two games played this season. He is 1-0-1 with seven goals allowed and a .881 save percentage.

Head-to-head

Tonight’s game is the sixth of 10 matches between the RiverKings and Ice Flyers. Pensacola has the advantage in the season series, with a 4-0-1 record. Despite the lopsided edge in victories, the first three Ice Flyers wins over the RiverKings were one-goal games. Because of a 4-1 win Dec. 13 the Ice Flyers have outscored the RiverKings, 13-8, in the season series.   

Three RiverKings players are tied with three points each against the Ice Flyers. Matt Whitehead (2g, 1a) leads with two goals. Devin Mantha (1g, 2a) has the only game-winning goal for the RiverKings, in their 2-1 overtime win Dec. 12. Andrew Randazzo rounds out the leaders with three assists. Both goalies have seen time against the Ice Flyers. Peter Di Salvo has the one win for Mississippi and in two starts this year against his former team he is 1-1-0 with a 1.99 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Corey Banfield leads the Ice Flyers with six points (3g, 3a) in five games against the RiverKings. He has two game-winning goals against his former team. Max Strang has started four of the five games in goal for Pensacola. He is 3-0-1 with a 1.74 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage.


Special teams

Pensacola is second in the SPHL on the power play at 20.2% (20-for-99). They aretied with Fayetteville for the most power-play goals scored in the league entering tonight. There is a drop off on the power play at home for the Ice Flyers. They are 7-for-52 (13.5%) at home as opposed to 13-for-47 (27.7%) on the road.

The RiverKings have power-play goals in their last two games, going 2-for-8 (25.0%). On the season they are 9-for-91 (9.9%) with the man advantage, which ranks seventh in the league. Success on the power play has been a good indicator of the team’s success on the ice. In nine games when scoring a power-play goal, the RiverKings are 6-1-2.

The Ice Flyers have the league’s best penalty kill, successfully killing 88.8% of opponent’s power plays (79-for-89). Their 10 power-play goals allowed are the fewest allowed in the SPHL. They’ve only allowed four power-play goals at the Pensacola Bay Center this season.

Mississippi’s penalty kill has dropped to seventh in the SPHL after allowing power-play goals in four of their last six games. In the home-and-home with Louisiana the RiverKings went 4-for-7 on the kill and 65-for-79 (82.3%). The RiverKings are the only team in the SPHL without a shorthanded goal this year. Last season they were third in the league with 10 shorthanded goals.

Posted by Lukas Favale at 1:08 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