October 15, 2017 - Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) - Mississippi RiverKings
Despite getting off to a hot start, the RiverKings dropped their only exhibition matchup this season, falling to the Havoc 5-2.
In front of a matinee crowd, the RiverKings took to Planters Bank Ice at Landers Center, and it only took 1:20 for the RiverKings to open the scoring for the 2017-18 season. Rookie Artur Drindrohzhik expertly tipped a shot from Ralfs Grinbergs, a scoring play was a direct result of hustle and constant pressure by the RiverKings forecheck. As the forwards began working the puck down low, the points opened up, and the puck landed on the stick of Latvian native Kristaps Bazevics. Bazevics, who just joined the team on Friday as part of an amateur tryout, found his defense partner Grinbergs along the blue line, who then rifled a laser-like snapshot that was expertly tipped by Drindrozhik past the Havoc goaltender.
RiverKings continued their strong play, and it was the returning players who helped the RiverKings strike next when on the power play Devin Mantha showed why he's been such a formidable scorer in the SPHL for the last five seasons. At the 8:46 mark of the first period, Stuart Stefan was sent to the box for slashing, and it only took Mantha and the RiverKings 56 seconds to increase their lead 2-0. Grinbergs, doing everything he could to move the puck down low found Mantha settling in the high slot when Mantha blasted a shot from about 30 feet away past the outstretched hand of goaltender Keegan Asmundson.
While the RiverKings would convert on their first power play of the day, it would be their only conversion in 9 attempts during the game.
Huntsville, mirroring the RiverKings, would also score on their first power play opportunity. Nearing the end of the first period, Devin Mantha got called for slashing and sent to the penalty box with 3:30 to go in the opening frame. After exactly one minute and 30 seconds, the Havoc notched their goal with exactly 2:00 on the game clock. Kyle Sharkey, a returning player from last season's roster for the Havoc, would receive cross-crease pass and beat RiverKings goaltender Jared Rutledge.
Huntsville would continue to keep the pressure up in the second period, despite taking a load of penalties. Midway through the second period, in an attempt to see his other goalie prospects in action, Coach Derek Landmesser made a change and brought in Cody Karpinski. Rutledge skated off having seen 14 shots and allowing one goal.
Only one minute and seven seconds into the goalie switch, Havoc forward Alex Bodden rifled a shot that hit the crossbar and went directly down. Initially waved off, the play came to an end due to a RiverKings icing violation. Referees conferred and deemed that Bodden's shot did cross the goal line, tying the game at 2.
The third period was perhaps the cruelest to the RiverKings as they saw the Havoc put up the go-ahead goal early in the period. Continuing his strong night, Bodden tallied his second goal at the 18:41 mark, only 19 seconds into the period. His wrist shot taken just outside the slot squeezed through Karpinski's torso and blocker arm, giving Bodden two goals on the day and the Havoc the lead.
It was only two and a half minutes before Jack Ceglarski would add an insurance goal for the Havoc when he and his forward partner Kyle Sharkey played a passing game reminiscent of tic-tac-toe in front of Jared Karpinski, pulling him out of position and beating him glove side. Ceglarski would join teammate Alex Bodden as multi-goal scorers only 3 minutes later when he and Sharkey hooked up for a cross-crease connection and catapulted the Havoc to a 5-2 lead.
Huntsville Havoc 5 at Mississippi RiverKings 2 - Status: Final
Sunday - Landers Center
Huntsville 5 0 0 - 5
Mississippi 2 0 0 - 2
1st Period-1, Mississippi, Drindrozhik 1 (Grinbergs, Bazevics), 18:40. 2, Mississippi, Mantha 1 (Grinbergs) 7:50; 3, Huntsville, Sharkey 1 (Smith, Perl), 2:00. Penalties- Bodden HSV (slashing), 10:32; Stefan HSV (slashing), 8:46; Mantha MRK (slashing), 3:30.
2nd Period- 4, Huntsville, Bodden 1 (Piacenti, Shinkaruk), 8:20. Penalties- Sikalis HSV (delay of game), 19:16; Willigar HSV (kneeling), 12:22; Ceglarski HSV (slashing), 12:22; Sikalis HSV (delay of game), 19:16; Willigar HSV (tripping), 2:33; Stefan HSV (tripping), 0;28.
3rd Period- 5, Huntsville, Bodden 2 (Shinkaruk), 18:41; 6, Huntsville, Ceglarski 1 (Sharkey), 16:10; 7, Huntsville, Ceglarski 1 (Sharkey, D. Smith), 13:00. Penalties- Coyne MRK (holding), 18:43; Trask HSV (tripping), 5:01; Sharkey (delay of game), 3:14.
Shots on Goal-Huntsville 8-12-15-35. Mississippi 13-9-14-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Huntsville 1 / 2; Mississippi 1 / 8.
Goalies-Huntsville, Asmundson 13-9-0 (22 shots-20 saves), DeLaVergne 0-0-14 (14 shots-14 saves). Mississippi, Rutledge 8-6-0 (14 shots-13 saves), Karpinski 0-6-15 (21 shots- 17 saves).
The RiverKings begin their twenty-sixth season of professional hockey when they battle the Knoxville Ice Bears on October 20 at Landers Center. Ticket packages are available now by visiting www.riverkings.com/familypacks or by calling the RiverKings office at 662-342-1755.
About the Mississippi RiverKings
The RiverKings are supported by our community partners, season ticket holders, fans, and grants from Maddox Foundation, an independent private foundation based in Hernando, Miss. To find out more about the RiverKings, call 662-342-1755 or visit RiverKings.com.