The Mississippi RiverKings were able to solve the Peoria Rivermen Saturday night at the Landers Center in Southaven, but needed a shootout to defeat the SPHL-leading Rivermen 4-3. The win came after Peoria had beaten the RiverKings Friday night 4-2 in regulation time.
Despite the loss, the extra standings point with the shootout has helped Peoria become the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot with its 32-11-4 record for 68 points.
Mississippi improved to 23-22-2 for 48 points with the win and remained in the playoff hunt in seventh place of the league standings.
Derek Sutliffe was the offensive spark the RiverKings needed Saturday night against the Rivermen, as he scored two goals and added an assist in the win.
Sutliffe scored at 9:32 of the second period, a goal that gave Mississippi a 2-1 lead at the time. He also assisted on Devin Mantha’s power play goal six minutes into the final period that gave the RiverKings a 3-2 lead.
It was Sutliffe’s goal in the shootout that gave Mississippi the game-winning margin it needed. Sutliffe scored in the fourth round of the five-round shootout.
Mantha also assisted on a goal for a two-point night and winning goaltender Jared Rutledge stopped 28 of 31 shots and four of five in the shootout.
Friday night, Peoria opened the weekend series with a 4-2 victory over the RiverKings at the Landers Center. Connor Gorman scored two goals for the Rivermen in the victory.
Mantha and Shane Bennett scored goals for Mississippi in the loss and goaltender Tyler Green stopped 21 of 24 shots in taking the loss.
The RiverKings now hit the road for five consecutive games before returning to the Landers Center on March 30 to host Huntsville in the first of three straight home games against the Havoc. A Saturday, April 7 game at home against Fayetteville (N.C.) will wrap up the regular season.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.