March 30, 2003

RiverBlades Clip Kingfish, 2-1
Baton Rouge Kingfish Press Release

The Arkansas RiverBlades used two first period goals and 32 saves from Scott Fankhouser to slip past the Baton Rouge Kingfish, 2-1 in the 2002-03 season finale for both teams.

Matt Pagnutti gave the RiverBlades a 2-1 lead 29 seconds into the first period as he fired a laser over Jeff Blairís shoulder from the left point. Aaron Davis and Terry Marchant picked up the assists on the goal.

Arkansas took a 2-0 lead before the end of the first as Buddy Smith beat Blair on a power play to add to his ECHL scoring lead, pushing his point total to 104 on the season. Pagnutti and Dean Stock added the assists on the goal at the 18:50 mark of the opening period.

Alexandre Burrows cut the RiverBlades lead in half as he lifted a backhand over the shoulder of Fankhouser just 2:47 into the third period. Mike Renzi and Mike Kiesman picked up the assists on the delayed penalty goal.

Jeff Blair made 25 saves for the Kingfish and finished the season with a 5-26-5 record. Baton Rouge out shot Arkansas 33-27 while going 0-8 on the power play.

The Kingfish finish the season with a 20-43-9 record for 49 points and a sixth place finish in the ECHLís Southwest division.

Blades Win, Clinch Third in Southwest
Arkansas RiverBlades Press Release

Matt Pagnutti and Buddy Smith each lit the lamp, as the Arkansas RiverBlades defeated the Baton Rouge Kingfish 2-1 Sunday. With the Jackson loss to Louisiana, Arkansas clinched third place in the Southwest Division, and will face the Louisiana IceGators in the first round of the 2003 Kelly Cup Playoffs.

Matt Pagnutti, who had a goal and an assist, quickly dented the scoreboard just 29 seconds into the game, notching his 15th goal of the campaign assisted by Aaron Davis and Terry Marchant. Then, just before the first intermission, Buddy Smith scored a power-play goal, his 30th of the season, from Matt Pagnutti and Dean Stock to make it 2-0.

That would be all of the scoring until the Kingfish cut the lead in half just 2:47 into the final frame, as Alexandre Burrows tallied his 13th of the year from Mike Renzi and Mike Kiesman.

The Kingfish could not get the equalizer, however, and the Blades held on for the 2-1 victory.

Baton Rouge outshot Arkansas 33-22 for the game, and the Kingfish were 0-for-8 on the power-play. The Blades were 1-for-5.

Scott Fankhouser made 32 saves to earn his 11th victory in a RiverBlades uniform. Jeff Blair stopped 20 of 22 in the cage for Baton Rouge.

Arkansas will now face the Louisiana IceGators in a best-of-five series in the first round of the 2003 Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Blades will play Wednesday and Thursday in Lafayette, but then host the Gators on Saturday and again on Sunday if necessary. A deciding fifth game, if it comes down to that, would be played Wednesday, April 9th, in Lafayette.

For more information on the Blades first playoff game since 2001, call 501-975-2327.


DATE - 03/30/03     Arkansas ( 2) AT Baton Rouge ( 1)

Arkansas                   2  0  0--2  
Baton Rouge                0  0  1--1  

FIRST PERIOD -- Scoring: 1, Arkansas-Pagnutti 15 (Davis; Marchant) 
0:29. 2, Arkansas-Smith 30 (game winner) (power play) (Stock; 
Pagnutti) 18:50. Penalties: Kiesman, BR (Interference), 10:15. Toor, 
ARK (Tripping), 15:40. Cirillo, ARK (Roughing), 16:29. Bell, BR 
(Holding stick), 17:33. Tucker, BR (Tripping), 18:14. 

SECOND PERIOD -- Scoring: None. Penalties: Stork, ARK (Holding), 
1:26. Bermingham, ARK (Tripping), 3:45. BENCH, ARK served by Scott 
(Too many men), 4:55. Coole, ARK (Interference), 18:15. Tucker, BR 
(Holding stick), 19:53. 

THIRD PERIOD -- Scoring: 3, Baton Rouge-Burrows 4 (Renzi; Kiesman) 
2:47. Penalties: Vickers, BR (Delay of game), 4:28. Sandbeck, ARK 
(Interference), 7:56. Bermingham, ARK (Board check), 12:31. 
Martinello, BR (Fighting, Major), 13:20. Coole, ARK (Fighting, Major), 
13:20. Martinello, BR (Roughing), 13:20. Smith, ARK (Tripping), 
16:00. Smith, ARK (Roughing), 18:24. Burrows, BR (Roughing), 18:24. 

Arkansas                  15  4  8--27 
Baton Rouge               10 10 13--33 

Power Play Conversions: Arkansas - 1 of 6, Baton Rouge - 0 of 8.
Goalies: Arkansas-Fankhouser (33 shots, 32 saves; record: 11-5-2). 
Baton Rouge-Blair (27 shots, 25 saves; record: 5-26-5). 
A: 1856.  Referee: Pelletier. Linesmen: Sotak; Jones.