Game 3: Mississippi RiverKings (1-1-0) vs. Columbus Cottonmouths (0-1-1)
6:30 p.m. CDT, Columbus Civic Center, Columbus, Georgia
The Mississippi RiverKings return to Georgia for the second time in two weeks to face the Columbus Cottonmouths for the first time this season. The RiverKings defeated the other Georgia team, the Macon Mayhem, 4-1, last weekend in Macon.
Columbus dropped its first two games of the season last week, falling to Huntsville in a shootout to open the season before getting doubled up, 4-2, in Knoxville the next night. Last season, the Cottonmouths lost their first seven games to begin the season before winning their next 10 games.
The RiverKings split a pair of games during opening weekend last week. They were shutout in their home opener for the second time in three seasons, losing 2-0 to the Louisiana IceGators at the Landers Center last Friday before rebounding to beat the Mayhem, 4-1, the next night in Macon.
RiverKings Pregame at 6:20 p.m.
Radio: Stretch Internet Radio
Streaming: Pay-to-watch video on SPHL Live
Scouting the Cottonmouths
The Cottonmouths began the regular season with back-to-back losses last weekend, dropping a 4-3 decision in a shootout to Huntsville on opening night and a 4-2 game in Knoxville on Saturday. They are 0-1-1 and have 1 point, which puts them in eighth place in the SPHL after the opening week. Last year Columbus opened the season with seven straight regulation losses before reeling off 10 straight wins.
Columbus had four goal scorers on opening weekend, led by Tyler Henry's two goals and three total points, most on the team. The Cottonmouths also got goals from Ben O'Quinn, Louis Belisle and Chris Rial, all of who finished with two points (1g, 1a) last week. Eight different players picked up at least one point in their two games.
In net Shannon Szabados was named the opening night starter for the Cottonmouths and she played in one of the two games last week. She took the shootout loss against Huntsville, allowing three goals on 50 shots, good for a .940 save percentage. Joel Danyluk played in the second game for Columbus and also allowed three goals on 37 shots for a .919 save percentage.
Tonight is the first of four head-to-head meetings between the RiverKings and Cottonmouths. The teams met five times in 2014-15, with Columbus winning three of the five, including one that went to overtime. They played twice at the Columbus Civic Center last season and the Cottonmouths won both matches, including the overtime game on Nov. 28.
Despite losing three of the five meetings, the RiverKings outscored Columbus 18-14 in the series. The three Cottonmouths wins were all one-goal games while the two RiverKings wins were by scores of 5-2 and 5-1.
The Cottonmouths have yet to score a power-play goal this season. They went 0-for-5 in the season opener against Huntsville and 0-for-4 against Knoxville in the second game of the season.
The RiverKings scored their first power-play goal of the season in Saturday night's win over Macon. They went 1-for-3 (33.3%) in the game and are 1-for-10 (10.0%) on the season. The RiverKings are one of three teams to score a power-play goal in the first week of the season, joining Fayetteville and Pensacola.
The Cottonmouths penalty kill is 6-for-6 through the first two games of the season and they are one of six teams to have not allowed a power-play goal yet this year.
The RiverKings penalty kill is perfect through the first two games of the season. They were 3-for-3 in the season opener against Louisiana and then followed that up with 5-for-5 performance against Macon the next night.