Children of All Ages to Celebrate Mississippi RiverKings’ 25th Anniversary Season
This fall, parents, kids and all their closest hockey fans have the opportunity to take part in something special, as the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Mississippi RiverKings celebrate their 25th season in the Mid-South. Home games are played at the Landers Center in Southaven – and the first one is scheduled for October 21 against Evansville.
“Especially being a non-traditional hockey market, being here for 25 years is obviously a huge testament to just the Memphis acceptance and excitement about hockey,” RiverKings’ Director of Business Operations David Schmoll said. “I think we’ve done a good job of reaching out to kids and families. That was something where we really shifted our focus – creating that family-friendly entertainment.”
The RiverKings will play five of their first eight games at home. And during their push to the SPHL playoffs, they’ll play eight of their final 11 contests at Landers.
“We’ve created packages that families can take advantage of, because it is expensive to take your family out for a night,” said Schmoll. “That’s one of the things that we’ve wanted to do – find new ways to expose kids to the game and also provide their families an opportunity to come out, relax, forget about the work week and let the kids run around in a safe environment.”
For the better part of 10 years, the RiverKings have been rolling out the red carpet for school-age students, hosting their annual Face Off Field Trips, where instead of the customary late-afternoon or evening start times, the puck drops at 10:30 in the morning. This season’s games are December 13 (vs. Evansville) and January 24 (vs. Knoxville).
“Before we sent out all the information, the schools were already contacting us wanting to know when the game is,” said RiverKings’ Office Manager Katie Callahan, “Because they all have been out in the past. They’re all very excited.”
RiverKings’ Manager of Game Operations Bradley Field helps provide a true learning experience with interactive videos that involve players – well, most of the time.
“As far as the player involvement is concerned, it depends on what we’re doing with them,” Field said. “Some of them want to do the science projects, some want to do the nutrition stuff and some of them want to stay as far away from the camera as they can.”
RiverKings coach Derek Landmesser has fond memories of his participation with Face Off Field Trips when he was an All-Star defenseman for the team.
“I remember the first time we were going to have one, and I thought it was kind of neat,” said Landmesser, “but it was 10 times bigger and better than that. To play in front of that many kids – it’s really something you have to experience. The atmosphere is electrifying.”
The RiverKings play the majority of their games on Friday and Saturday nights, starting at 7:30. As fans – young and old – find their seats, it’s not long before they’re introduced to RiverThing, arguably the fuzziest, most fun-loving mascot in the league.
“RiverThing certainly adds a lot to the experience,” Field said. “We’re actually looking to get him a little more involved this upcoming season. The kids really gravitate to him.”
Added Schmoll: “You just see that a lot with minor league sports – while it’s great to have all your playersgo out in the community and do all those things – the kids really don’t get to latch on to a player for that long, but RiverThing has been here 25 years. Even parents, they might not remember it was Matt Whitehead who scored that big goal, but they can remember, ‘Hey, I remember when RiverThing high-fived my kid or took a picture with RiverThing one time.’ That’s a name that they put with the organization.”
DeSoto County resident Chris Van Tuyl is a former newspaper journalist, who enjoys the company of his wife, his pets and watching sports.
RiverKings Home Schedule
October 21 – Evansville, 7:30 p.m.
November 4 – Macon, 7:30 p.m. 5 – Knoxville, 7:30 p.m. 11 – Fayetteville, 7:30 p.m. 12 – Fayetteville, 7:30 p.m. 20 – Peoria, 3 p.m. 26 – Knoxville, 7:30 p.m.
December 3 – Pensacola, 7:30 p.m. 9 – Huntsville, 7:30 p.m. 13 – Evansville, 10:30 a.m. 23 – Huntsville, 7:30 p.m.
January 6 – Peoria, 7:30 p.m. 7 – Peoria, 7:30 p.m. 21 – Evansville, 7:30 p.m. 24 – Knoxville, 10:30 a.m. 27 – Peoria, 7:30 p.m.
February 7 – Macon, 7:30 p.m. 20 – Columbus, 3 p.m. 24 – Roanoke, 7:30 p.m. 25 – Roanoke, 7:30 p.m.
March 11 – Roanoke, 7:30 p.m. 14 – Huntsville, 7:30 p.m. 17 – Pensacola, 7:30 p.m. 25 – Pensacola, 7:30 p.m. 26 – Pensacola, 3 p.m. 28 – Columbus, 7:30 p.m.
April 2 – Evansville, 3 p.m. 7 – Peoria, 7:30 p.m.
Call 662-342-1755 or visit riverkings.com.