December 12, 2017 - Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) - Evansville Thunderbolts
The Thunderbolts concluded their four-game homestand against the Mississippi RiverKings, who were coming to town following a tough loss to Birmingham the night prior. With plenty of call-ups and new faces with less chemistry, the RiverKings floundered, and the Thunderbolts would score by the bunch, winning 9-3 to take three of four at home.
Christopher Hayes would put Mississippi ahead on a breakaway following a turnover by Lee Christensen at the 8:32 mark. The Thunderbolts would come back with a response we have not seen this year, four goals in the span of exactly 5:00. The first came only 21 seconds after Hayes' goal as John Scorcia went to the net front uncovered after Justin MacDonald's initial shot was stopped, and easily tapped home by Scorcia, also assisted by Dylan Clarke. The go ahead goal would come 17 seconds after this, at the 9:10 mark, as Tyler Vankleef would fire home a loose puck in the slot to make it 2-1 from Frank Schumacher and Nick D'Avolio. Clarke would extend the lead to 3-1 at the 10:37 mark as MacDonald intercepted a pass along the boards, handing off to Williams who moved to the net and banked the shot off Tyler Green and in to make it 4-1, also assisted by Chase Nieuwendyk. After a double minor penalty to Cory Melkert the RiverKings would head to the power play late in the period, and with 18 seconds left, Matt Harrington would score to make it 4-2, from Shane Bennett and Devin Mantha. However, the Bolts were not done in the period as Williams and Mark Petaccio would come down on a 2-on-1 in the fading seconds, Williams getting the shot past relief goaltender Jared Rutledge to make it 5-2 with only four seconds left.
The scoring would continue in the following period, as some crisp passing by Robbie Hall and D'Avolio, and a cross-ice pass to MacDonald, would equal MacDonald's second of the night and a 6-2 lead at the 3:43 mark. The scoring would cease for a while but would pick back up as MacDonald would intercept a pass and head up ice for a breakaway to score his third of the game to make it 7-2, at 11:24 of the second period. D'Avolio would add another goal to make it 8-2 after walking up the boards, moving around the defenseman and shooting five-hole, assisted by Al Graves and Williams. Tyler Deresky would make it 9-2 at 15:01 after coming in on a breakaway, shooting as he was tripped up to extend the lead to seven goals, assisted by Schumacher and Clarke. Mississippi had one final gasp in the period, as Mantha would score a power play goal with 2:42 remaining to make it 9-3, from Ralfs Grinbergs and Kristaps Bazevics. Despite the high scoring in the first two periods, there would be no goals in the third, and the Bolts would take this one 9-3, setting a franchise record for goals scored in a game, and goal differential in a victory.
MacDonald would score three goals and two assists, Clarke would score a goal and three assists, D'Avolio scored a goal and two assists, Williams finished with a goal and assist, and scoring a goal each were Deresky, Vankleef and Scorcia. Schumacher finished with two assists and Imoo would make 36 saves on 39 shots for the victory. Attendance for tonight's game at the Ford Center was 2,376.
After taking three of four games at home, the Thunderbolts head back on the road, making their first trip to Florida to take on the Pensacola Ice Flyers at the Pensacola Bay Center on Friday, Dec. 15, and following that up with their second trip to Birmingham to take on the Bulls on Saturday, Dec. 16. Both games are scheduled for 7:05 p.m. cst starts and can be viewed on SPHL Live and listened to for free on the Thunderbolts MixLr Radio Network. Following the road trip the Thunderbolts return home to take on Roanoke for the final time on Friday, Dec. 22, and Knoxville on Saturday, Dec. 23.
About Evansville Thunderbolts:
The Evansville Thunderbolts is the area's only professional
hockey team. The Thunderbolts are a proud member of the Southern Professional Hockey
League (SPHL). The team is owned and operated by VW Sports, L.L.C, a subsidiary of