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From The Penalty Box - RiverKings Fall at Home to Pensacola
by Greg Ratliff,posted Apr 3 2015 9:58PM
The Mississippi RiverKings took on the Pensacola Ice Flyers at the Landers Center tonight, in Game 2 of their best-of-three series in the first round of the SPHL Playoffs. On the line tonight was a chance to advance to the next round and get one step closer to the Finals.
Pensacola came out quick and tough early in the first period getting the first few chances of the game. The Ice Flyers did a good job of working the puck behind the net and firing it out front and ended up getting a goal 2:15 into the period from Nick McParland. Pensacola came out much more physical to start, but had difficulty in holding onto the puck for extended periods of time. At times the RiverKings looked as if they were on the power play and turned that possession advantage into their first goal at 5:13 into the period with Matt Harrington netting the goal and Thomas and Whitehead assisting. The rest of the period was a lot of back and forth with HUGE long entry passes that were working well for each team. The Kings started pressing again, but Max Strang kept Pensacola tied with the Kings 1-1. Overall, the Kings took a lot of their chances from the points and in the circles working the angles whereas the Ice Flyers created more by passing into the slot. Pensacola closed out the period with a Too Many Men on the Ice penalty which the Kings had yet to capitalize on at the end of the first. The Kings did lead SOG with 18 to only 7 for Pensacola.
Both teams looked a little rough to start the second. Lots of sloppy puck possession after the First Period penalty was killed off by the Ice Flyers. Kings finally started to pick up the physicality, using their slight height advantage. Matt Harrington was all over the place. Typically when something good happened, he was somewhere around it. Then things kind of fell apart for the Kings. Things started getting a bit chippy and Matt Whitehead seemed to be at the center of it. He ended up drawing a double roughing penalty with Adam Pawlick of Pensacola with around 7 to go. Both teams played 2 minutes of Four-on-Four but couldn’t convert. A few minutes later Linden Bahm picked up another penalty for the RiverKings, this one an interference call which led to the power play goal by John Puskar after a gorgeous pass from McParland to put the Ice Flyers on top 2-1 to close out the second period.
The third got off to a quick start with Bryon Paulazzo getting his third goal of the playoffs in quick fashion at just 26 seconds into the period. After that though, it was all Pensacola. In the end, the Ice Flyers ended up catching up in the SOG department to actually take a 31-30 lead at the end of the period. The Riverkings had 18 SOG in the first and only 12 the next two. Yikes. And where Matt Harrington was the catalyst up to the end of third for the Kings, Nick McParland was the same for Pensacola. At the end of the third he had 4 shots, a goal and an assist and was seemingly around every time there was a big scoring chance. But alas, the game was still tied at 3 and headed to overtime for a second straight game.
The RiverKings came out firing in OT, leading Pensacola to take their time out with about 16:40 left in the period. From there the Kings kept on firing, making Strang make a number of huge saves to keep the Ice Flyers in the game. Then, after a couple of icing calls that were a little close, and a possibly missed tripping penalty, Nick Lazorko got a hold of a loose puck and buried it giving Pensacola the victory, and tying the series at 1-1. The deciding game of the series, Game 3 is tomorrow night in Pensacola. The RiverKings hope to rebound and advance to the next round by picking up a victory tomorrow.
The 3 Stars should be no surprise, as Pensacola sweeps the podium with Jon Puskar getting the top honors, followed by Nick McParland and the man who got the game-winner, Nick Lazorko.
The Kings showed a lot of skill and talent tonight but in the end, the Ice Flyers looked exactly like the team that finished the regular season as strong as they did, winning six of their last ten.
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