Rolling RiverKings back home against Rivermen

Game 33: Mississippi RiverKings (16-14-2) vs. Peoria Rivermen (18-10-3)

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

The Mississippi RiverKings, winners of a season-high four straight games, are back home to face the Peoria Rivermen in the fourth of 11 matches between the teams this season. The teams will play at the Landers Center on back-to-back nights tonight and tomorrow. The RiverKings have won two of the first three against Peoria, with all three games coming Jan. 9-11 in Peoria. The teams then play six times in March right before the end of the regular season.

The Rivermen are just 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, but after beating the Knoxville Ice Bears, 6-4, last night the Rivermen are up to second place in the SPHL. They have eight wins in 10 games against Knoxville, but are just 8-8-3 against the rest of the league. 

The RiverKings have won four games in a row, including winning all three games of a three-in-three series last weekend. The streak started Jan. 11 with a win in Peoria. This is the first weekend since late December that will not be a three-in-three for the RiverKings. After this back-to-back with Peoria the RiverKings next play Tuesday morning as part of the FaceOff FieldTrip at the Landers Center.  

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 RiverKings scored the first two goals in the first period and Peter Di Salvo made that stand as the RiverKings beat the Huntsville Havoc, 2-1, Sunday night at the Von Braun Center.

Linden Bahm put the first goal of the evening onto the board just two minutes into the game. He capitalized on a rebound in the crease with Leo Thomas and Mike Grace getting assists. Grace would also get the secondary assist later in the first period when the RiverKings went up 2-0 at 12:35. Matt Whitehead received a drop pass from Sean Jones and fired a shot from the right circle for the two-goal lead. Nick Metcalfe scored the sole goal for the Havoc 17 minutes into the first period.

Of the 27 shots taken by the Havoc, 21 were in the second and third periods and Di Salvo turned aside each one over the final 40 minutes. The RiverKings had 13 shots in the final two periods.

Scouting the Rivermen

This past weekend the Rivermen went 1-1-1 against the Louisiana IceGators and then started this week with a 6-4 win last night in Knoxville. At 18-10-3, the Rivermen are second in the SPHL with 39 points, just one point out of first place. During their three-game series earlier in the season, the Rivermen lost two out of three in Peoria against the RiverKings.

Last week the final two games for the Rivermen went beyond regulation; one ending in overtime, the other in a shootout. The Rivermen’s Alex Hudson is second on the team with 21 points (9g, 12a) including three points last weekend. He scored one goal and assisted on the tying goal by Jake Trask (12g, 6a) Saturday night. Hudson added another goal in Sunday's shootout loss. Garrett Vermeersch is fourth in scoring with 18 points (6g, 12a) and netted his third game-winning goal of the season in overtime Saturday. They all trail leading scorer Josh Harris, who has 23 points (12g, 11a) in 31 games.

In net Kyle Rank, goalie of the month in December, has appeared in 24 games and is 14-7-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. He started two of the three games against the RiverKings in Peoria and went 1-1-0, 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 only two opportunities last night in Knoxville and improved to 21-for-138 (15.2%) on the man advantage this season. Only two teams have scored more power-play goals than Peoria has scored this season. They were 2-for-9 (22.2%) in the three games against the RiverKings Jan. 9-11. 

The RiverKings power play is seventh in the SPHL at 10.9% (14-for-128) after going 3-for-9 Saturday against Fayetteville. That's the only game in the last seven that the RiverKings have scored a power-play goal and they were 0-for-2 Sunday in Huntsville. They are considerably better at home than on the road. At the Landers Center they are 10-for-75 (13.3%), while they are just 4-for-53 (7.5%) on the road. 

Despite allowing two power-play goals in four shorthanded situations last night the Rivermen still boast the league's top penalty kill, although they have been shorthanded more than any other team. They are 122-for-141 (86.5%) on the penalty kill overall this season, although they are sixth on the kill when on the road. Away from Peoria the Rivs are 48-for-58 (82.8%).

Mississippi’s penalty kill is 12-for-12 over the last three games after giving up a power-play goal on their first shorthanded situation Friday night. They killed off the remaining five the rest of that game and were 7-for-7 the next two nights. The RiverKings are seventh in the league at 82.9% (92-for-111).

Posted by Lukas Favale at 2:23 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