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The Mississippi RiverKings allowed a season-high nine goals as Justin MacDonald secured a hat-trick for Evansville in the Thunderbolts’ 9-3 victory over the RiverKings Saturday night in Evansville, Ind.

Mississippi opened the scoring when CJ Hayes scored his first professional goal unassisted at 8:32 of the first period for a 1-0 RiverKings lead

From there, however, Evansville scored the next four goals to take a 4-1 lead before Matt Harrington responded on the power play at 19:42 of the frame to get the RiverKings within 4-2. Shane Bennett and Devin Mantha earned assists on the goal.

Evansville answered quickly, however, as Dave Williams scored with just four seconds left in the period to help the Thunderbolts take a 5-2 advantage into the first intermission.

Evansville added four more goals in the second period for a 9-2 lead before Mantha tallied the final goal of the night, on the power play, at 17:12 of the second period. Ralfs Grinbergs and Kristaps Bazevics were given assists on the goal.

There would be no scoring in the final 20 minutes of the game.

Tyler Green was tagged with the loss in goal for Mississippi with 13 saves on 23 shots on goal. Jared Rutledge played 19:21 of the game in net and allowed four goals on six shots.

The RiverKings had chances to score on the power play, but tallied only two goals in eight opportunities and outshot the ‘Bolts 39-29 for the game.

With the loss, the RiverKings entered Monday’s action tied for third place in the Southern Pro Hockey League standings with a 10-5-0 record for 20 points. Mississippi is three points behind first-place Peoria, with Pensacola in second place at 11-4-0 for 22 points. Saturday’s loss also moved Evansville into a tie for third place with the RiverKings.

It finished a weekend where Mississippi failed to pick up a point in the league standings, coming on the heels of Friday’s 3-1 home loss against Birmingham. Shane Bennett scored the RiverKings’ only goal of the game in that outing.

Tuesday morning, Mississippi is hosting the first of its annual Face Off Field Trip school-day games, playing Huntsville at the Landers Center in Southaven, starting at 10:30 a.m.

Huntsville is currently tied with Macon for fifth place in the league standings before Monday’s play and will bring a record of 8-4-2 for 18 points into the morning’s contest.

Bob Bakken is Sports Editor and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.

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