Third-period surge sends RiverKings to 5-3 win

KNOXVILLE, TN – The Mississippi RiverKings (6-10-2) scored four goals in the third period, including three unanswered in the first five minutes, to race past the Knoxville Ice Bears (11-6-1), 5-3, Thursday night at the Knoxville Ice Coliseum. 

The RiverKings grabbed the lead late in the first period by converting on an Ice Bears defensive zone turnover. Matt Whitehead sticked down a pass near the crease and centered for Matt Harrington. He went to the backhand as he got knocked down and beat Bryan Hince for his sixth goal of the season with 2:42 remaining in the first. 

The Ice Bears turned things around in the second. After Daniel Sobotka missed on a penalty shot for the RiverKings at 4:23 the Ice Bears scored two quick goals to move past the RiverKings. Francis Drolet tied the game at 9:47 when he converted on a rebound from the left circle. Then, while on a two-man advantage, Berkley Scott finished off a pass from Eric Satim to go ahead, 2-1, at 11:11 of the second. 

Heading into the third down 2-1 the RiverKings immediately went to work to tie the game then eventually take the lead. Mississippi quickly drew a penalty just 12 seconds into the third. On the ensuing power play Andrew Randazzo took a shot from the right circle which was tipped by Devin Mantha for a power-play goal and a 2-2 tie 53 seconds into the third. A few minutes later the RiverKings reclaimed the lead when Leo Thomas sent a pass across to Whitehead at the left circle, who fired it home for a 3-2 lead a 4:18. On the next shift the Ice Bears nearly tied the game then the RiverKings counterattacked and Harrington finished a 3-on-2 by snapping home his second goal of the game from the high slot at 4:55 for a 4-2 lead.

Knoxville tried to mount another comeback. Right after Harrington's goal Sobotka and Corey Fulton dropped the gloves. That fight seemed to ignite an Ice Bears spark, as they would score on a power play a few minutes later to pull within one. Mike Henderson shot a one timer from the left circle to make it 4-3 at 8:14.

RiverKings goalie Adam Courchaine would keep the Ice Bears off the board the rest of the way to earn his first win of the season. He ended the night with 23 saves for the win. Dan Delisle capped the scoring with an empty-net goal with 2.1 seconds left to make it a 5-3 final.

Notes: The RiverKings have power-play goals in three straight games for the first time this season... this was Matt Harrington's first multi-goal game of the season and the fourth for the RiverKings this season, the first since Matt Whitehead and Justin Gvora both score twice Nov. 21 vs. Louisiana... The RiverKings are the first team other than Peoria to beat the Ice Bears this season.

The RiverKings are back home Tuesday, Dec. 23 for "Festivus" Night. The RiverKings celebrate the holiday "for the rest of us" and fans wearing a tacky sweater can buy one ticket and get one of equal value for free, available at the Landers Center Box Office. Single-game tickets can be purchased at riverkings.com/ticketmaster and groups of 15 or more get a discount, with group tickets starting at $8 per ticket, by calling the front office at 662-342-1755.

About the Mississippi RiverKings

The Mississippi RiverKings are supported by their community partners, season ticket holders, fans, and by program-related investments of the Maddox Foundation, an independent private foundation based in Hernando, Miss. To find out more about the RiverKings, call 662.342.1755 or visit www.riverkings.com.

Posted by Lukas Favale at 9:35 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