RiverKings play first game in two weeks; visit IceGators

Game 40: Mississippi RiverKings (22-15-2) vs. Louisiana IceGators (17-12-5)

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

The Mississippi RiverKings play their first game since Feb. 7 as they hit the road for the first of two straight games away from the Landers Center. The RiverKings face the Louisiana IceGators for the 10th of 11 times this season and the sixth of seven times at the Cajundome in Lafayette. The RiverKings have won six of the first nine head-to-head matches in the season series. The series will conclude Feb. 26 in Louisiana.

The IceGators have lost four straight games in regulation after collecting points in nine straight games (6-0-3) from Jan. 16-Feb. 6. They lost their fourth in a row with a 4-2 loss to Pensacola Tuesday at the Pensacola Bay Center. This is the first home game for the IceGators since Jan. 30. They went 2-4-0 on a six-game road trip.

The RiverKings have won six straight games and 10 of their last 11 games, but they have not played since Feb. 7 against the Ice Flyers. Their match with Huntsville Tuesday was postponed because of an ice storm in the Mid-South. They've played just two games so far in February and they finish the week with a trip to Huntsville tomorrow afternoon.

Broadcast Coverage

Hibu RiverKings Pregame at 7:00 p.m.

Radio: Sports 56/87.7FM

Streaming: Pay-to-watch video on SPHL Live 

Last time out

The RiverKings nabbed their sixth straight win, and third straight over the Pensacola Ice Flyers, with a 3-2 on Pink in the Rink Feb. 7 at the Landers Center.

The RiverKings snatched the lead late in the first period. Mike Hayward kept the puck in at the blue line, avoided a check and then carried it to the right circle before passing to Joey Holka in the slot for a one-timer. He put the RiverKings up 1-0 18:08 into the first on his third goal of the season.

After a fighting and roughing penalty on the Ice Flyers, Daniel Sobotka put the RiverKings up 2-0 a minute into the power play after a slap shot from the right point. Andrew Randazzo and Matt Whitehead got assists on the goal, the first for Sobotka this season. Minutes later, the Ice Flyers scored their first goal of the night after Brett Lutes pried the puck free from Courchaine to poke it into the goal for a 2-1 game.

Although the Ice Flyers started the third on the penalty kill, they shortly tied the game up at 2-2 1:31 into the period. Nick McParland scored the goal on a 2-on-1. Over three minutes later, the RiverKings reclaimed the lead as Reid Campbell started a rush for Mississippi. He passed the puck up to Linden Bahm, who moved it to Devin Mantha in the neutral zone. Mantha sped to the right circle and scored the eventual game-winning goal from the right faceoff dot at . Mississippi kept the lead over the Ice Flyers for a 3-2 final.

Spread the wealth

During the RiverKings six-game winning streak, six different players have contributed with a game-winning goal. During the streak Paul Ciarelli, Leo Thomas, Andrew Randazzo, Sean Jones, Linden Bahm and Devin Mantha all have scored a game-winning goal for the RiverKings. In fact, since the start of January the RiverKings have 13 wins and nine different players have scored the game-winning goal. 

Jones, Bahm, Mantha and Thomas are the four players who have scored more than one since the turn of the calendar. 12 players this season have scored a game-winning goal for the RiverKings this season, with four players tied for the team lead with three apiece.

Scouting the IceGators 

The RiverKings pick up their season series with the Louisiana IceGators for the first time since Jan. 7 when they visit the Cajundome Friday night. The teams played three straight games Jan. 3-7, with the RiverKings winning two of the three and they have played nine times this season. The RiverKings have won six of the nine, including a 3-2-0 mark at the Cajundome. They finish the 11-game season series Feb. 26 in Louisiana.

After collecting points in nine straight games (6-0-3) Jan. 16-Feb. 6 the IceGators have lost four straight games in regulation. This past weekend they lost twice to the Knoxville Ice Bears, 4-3 and 6-3, in Knoxville. They also dropped a 4-2 decision to the Pensacola Ice Flyers Tuesday. On the season Louisiana is 20-15-6, good for 46 points. That puts them in a three-way tie for fourth place with the RiverKings and Columbus Cottonmouths, although both teams have two games in hand on the IceGators.

Adam Stuart leads the IceGators in scoring with 42 points (14g, 28a) in 39 games. He is tied for the team lead with four game-winning goals and also leads the team with 11 power-play points. Chris Wilson is second on the team with 36 points (15g, 21a), including eight power-play points. Jake Hauswirth (15g, 16a) is third with 31 points in just 22 games played. 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.

The IceGators has used both goaltenders in each of their last four games, all losses. On the season Marco De Filippo has appeared in 28 games and is 14-7-4 with a 3.15 goal-against average and a .900 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 third overall on the power play in the SPHL at 17.3% (24-for-139), although they were 0-for-4 Tuesday night. During their current four-game losing streak the IceGators are 1-for-16 (6.3%). Their only goal in the last four games came Feb. 14 against Knoxville. 

The RiverKings have scored power-play goals in four of their last five games, going 5-for-17 (29.4%). They're still seventh in the SPHL at 12.7% (20-for-157). The RiverKings remain stronger on the power play at home as opposed to on the road. At home the RiverKings are 14-for-97 (14.4%), while on the road they are just 6-for-60 (10.0%).

On the penalty kill, the IceGators are second in the SPHL at 84.8% (151-for-178). Over the last four games the IceGators are 9-for-13 (69.2%) on the kill. They have similar numbers both at home (84.3%) and on the road (84.1%), ranking fourth in the SPHL in both categories.

The RiverKings are seventh on the penalty kill in the SPHL at 83.6% (112-for-134). In the last five games, the RiverKings have successfully killed 14 of 15 opponent power plays, including 9-for-9 in the last four. 

Posted by Lukas Favale at 2:00 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