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RiverKings seek revenge vs. Rivermen

Game 34: Mississippi RiverKings (16-15-2) vs. Peoria Rivermen (19-10-3)

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

The Mississippi RiverKings look to get back in the win column against the Peoria Rivermen after having their four-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Rivermen last night. Tonight is the fifth of 11 matches between the teams this season. Both sides have won twice in the series and the teams have alternated wins during the course of the first four games. The teams finish the season series with six games over three weekends in March right before the end of the regular season.

The Rivermen are looking to go 3-0 in their three-in-three.They began their six-game road trip with a Thursday win in Knoxville and then followed that up with last night's win against the RiverKings. The road trip continues in Louisiana next week. 

The RiverKings had their four-game winning streak snapped last night. They won all three games of a three-in-three series last weekend. The winning streak started Jan. 11 with a win in Peoria. After this back-to-back with Peoria the RiverKings next play Tuesday morning as part of the FaceOff FieldTrip at the Landers Center. They then finish January with a home game against Pensacola Jan. 30 and a trip to Huntsville Jan. 31. 

Broadcast Coverage

Hibu RiverKings Pregame at 7:00 p.m.

Radio: Live audio on riverkings.com

Streaming: Pay-to-watch video on SPHL Live 

Last time out

The Peoria Rivermen scored a goal in the first, another in the second and two in the third to beat the RiverKings, 4-1, at the Landers Center last night.

Jake Trask put Peoria ahead 1-0 with a power-play goal just 5:28 into the first period, his third power-play goal in the four-game season series against Mississippi. The Rivermen made it 2-0 in the second period when Christian Weidauer sent a shot from the right point that went through traffic and found the back of the net behind Adam Courcahine at 2:42 of the period.

Mike Gurtler's goal on a breakaway at 9:04 of the third gave Peoria a 3-0 advantage. It stayed that way until the RiverKings got a power play and Matt Whitehead buried a shot from the slot to end Kyle Rank's shut out bid with under six minutes remaining in the third. Alec Hagaman added an empty-net goal to finish off a 4-1 final.

Head-to-head

Tonight is the fifth of 11 matches between the teams this season. The teams have alternated wins over the first four games. The RiverKings won two out of three in Peoria Jan. 9-11 and the Rivermen responded with a win last night at the Landers Center. Both sides are average just 2.00 goals per game in the season series, scoring eight goals in the four matches. Both teams also have had 13 power plays in the series, but the RiverKings are just 1-for-13 (7.7%) while Peoria is 3-for-13 (23.1%).

Matt Whitehead is the leading scorer in the season series with four points (3g, 1a) in four games after adding a power-play goal last night. Mike Hayward (1g, 2a) and Devin Mantha (1g, 2a) are right behind him with three points each. For Peoria three players have three points against the RiverKings. Jake Trask has three goals, all on the power play, including one game-winning goal. Mike Gurtler (1g, 2a) and Josh Harris (3a) also have three points in the series.

In net Kyle Rank has started three of the four games for Peoria and he's expected to start again tonight. He is 2-1-0 against Mississippi and has won his last two starts while allowing just one goal on 79 shots. He shut out the RiverKings, 1-0, Jan. 10 in Peoria. He's given up just three goals in total and has a .971 save percentage in the series. For the RiverKings both Adam Courchaine and Peter Di Salvo have made two starts against the Rivermen. Di Salvo has two wins and has allowed just three goals (1.50 goals-against average) along with a .950 save percentage. Courchaine has been on the receiving end of two losses, but has given up just four goals and holds a .937 save percentage.

Scouting the Rivermen

The Rivermen have opened their six-game road trip, which spans two weekends, with back-to-back wins. They beat the Knoxville Ice Bears, 6-4, Thursday night and downed the RiverKings, 4-1, last night. The trip continues next week with another three-in-three, first in Louisiana for two and then in Pensacola. With their two wins this week the Rivermen are in second place at 19-10-3 and 41 points. They're just one point behind Knoxville for first place and with a win tonight the Rivs would become the second team with 20 wins. 

Josh Harris leads Peoria in scoring with 24 points (12g, 12a) in 32 games. 10 of his 24 points have come on the power play, with four goals and six assists coming on the man advantage. Alex Hudson is right behind him with 22 points (9g, 13a) and a team-leading plus-16 rating, which ranks third in the SPHL. Hudson also leads the team with 104 penalty minutes. Jake Trask is up to third on the team with 19 points (13g, 6a), including three goals in the last two games. He has six power-play goals on the season, half of which have come against the RiverKings. 

In net Kyle Rank, goalie of the month in December, has appeared in 25 games and is 15-7-2 with a 2.20 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. He is 2-1-0 against the RiverKings, including a 1-0 shutout win Jan. 10. Other regular goalie Eric Levine only has 10 games played because of several stints in the ECHL. He was just called up to ECHL-Alaska Wednesday. With the Rivermen he is 4-3-1 with a 2.86 goals-against average and an .894 save percentage. Levine hasn't won since Dec. 4, going 0-3-0 in five appearances since then.

Special teams

Peoria's power play converted on their first power play last night against the RiverKings and finished 1-for-4 in the game. They improved to 22-for-142 (15.5%) on the man advantage this season. Only two teams have scored more power-play goals than Peoria has scored this season. 

The RiverKings power play is seventh in the SPHL at 11.3% (15-for-133) after going 1-for-5 last night. They have power-play goals in just two of the last eight 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-80 (13.8%), while they are just 4-for-53 (7.5%) on the road. 

Despite allowing power-play goals in back-to-back games the Rivermen still boast the league's top penalty kill, even will being shorthanded more than any other team. They are 126-for-146 (86.3%) on the penalty kill overall this season, although they are sixth on the kill when on the road. Away from Peoria the Rivs are 52-for-63 (82.5%).

Mississippi’s penalty kill is 15-for-16 over the last four games after giving up a power-play goal on their first shorthanded situation Jan. 16. They killed off the remaining five the rest of that game and were 7-for-7 the next two nights. The RiverKings allowed one power-play goal in four chances against Peoria. The RiverKings are seventh in the league at 82.6% (95-for-115).

Posted by Lukas Favale at 4:00 PM

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Next Game

Fri, Dec. 15 @ Birmingham - 7:35 PM

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Sat, Dec. 23 - 7:00 PM

Holiday Luau • Kids' Club Event

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Schedule

Standings

TEAM GP W L OT PTS
PEN Pensacola 16 12 4 0 24
PEO Peoria 16 11 4 1 23
HUN Huntsville 15 9 4 2 20
MRK RiverKings 16 10 6 0 20
EVV Evansville 16 9 5 2 20
MAC Macon 16 7 5 4 18
KNX Knoxville 15 7 7 1 15
FAY Fayetteville 18 5 9 4 14
RKE Roanoke 15 5 8 2 12
BIR Birmingham 13 3 9 1 7
 
Full Standings

Updated: December 12, 2017