The Columbus Cottonmouths' 2013-2014 home-opener against the Knoxville Ice Bears had a little something for everybody.
What it didn't produce was the Snakes' first win of the young season as they dropped to 0-2.
Knoxville took away a 3-2 win in a contest that featured a couple of power play goals, a penalty shot, and a successful penalty kill on a five-minute major.
Rookie forward Ian McNulty scored his first professional goal of the season and was also awarded what is usually a rarity in hockey, a penalty shot. Whole seasons often pass without a team getting a penalty shot and the Snakes have had the opportunity two nights in a row. Both were unsuccessful.
McNulty put the Snakes on the board late in the first period on a perfect pass from Matt Gingera.
"I got real lucky," McNulty said. "I got the pass from
Gingera and just picked up the garbage."
Late in the second period, McNulty was awarded a penalty shot.
"I knew I couldn't deke him because the puck was rolling around, so I just took the shot," McNulty said.
The Snakes killed two of three Knoxville power plays, an improvement from opening night when Pensacola put up a whopping four power play goals. Each team scored once on the power play.
For the second night in a row, the Snakes' penalty kill faced a big challenge. Daniel Amesbury was hit with a five-minute major for elbowing in Pensacola and one for fighting against the Ice Bears. Against the Ice Flyers on Friday, the Snakes surrendered one goal, but were successful in killing the five minutes against Knoxville.
Snakes captain Kyle Johnson defended Amesbury's attack on Knoxville's Cody Dion. Dion kept his gloves on and didn't fight, so Amesbury got the five-minute major.
"Everybody has a role on this team and Danny does his role better than anybody," Johnson said.
"It was a cheap hit on Aide along the boards. To tell you the truth, if I was on the ice, I would have done the same thing."
Johnson acknowledged the team's increased physical play in the third period. The Snakes trailed 3-1 after two and pulled to within one on a power play goal by Jordan Braid only 1:13 into the contest.
"That is part of our identity," Johnson said. "In the second we got away from it a little bit, but we got it back in the third."
Johnson complimented the team's rookies as they fit into the Snakes' system.
"It's an adjustment going from college and juniors to the professional game," Johnson said. "They belong here. They've proved that already.
The Snakes faced goaltender Bryan Hince, who is on a hot streak against Columbus. Hince posted his fifth straight win over the Cottonmouths, including back-to-back shutouts in the first round of the playoffs last season.
The Snakes outshot the Ice Bears 30-22.
The contest was the first of three in a row at home for the Snakes. Next weekend, the Huntsville Havoc come to town on Friday on Military Night and the Ice Bears return on Saturday. Game time for both is 7:30.
Saturday at the Columbus Civic Center
Knoxville 1 2 0--3
Columbus 1 0 1--2
First period--1, Knoxville, Souders (Peterson, Kurceba) 8:21; 2, Columbus, McNulty (Gingera) 14:53. Penalties--Van Vliet, Knoxville (tripping) 3:50.
Second period--3, Knoxville, Drolet (Van Vliet, Satim) 1:39 PPG; 4, Knoxville, Power (Hince) 5:52. Penalties--Draper, Columbus (boarding) :34; Dion, Knoxville (elbowing) 4:48; Maldonado, Columbus (cross-checking) 4:48; McNulty, Columbus (tripping) 6:16; Drolet, Knoxville (tripping) 15:07; Hince, Knoxville (interference) 17:06.
Third period--5, Columbus, Braid (Maldonado, Gingera) 1:13 PPG. Penalties--Van Vliet, Knoxville (hooking) :13; Neal, Knoxville (interference) 9:45; Dion, Knoxville (boarding) 13:21; Amesbury, Columbus (instigator, fighting, game misconduct) 13:21.
Shots on goal: Knoxville 9-7-6-22. Columbus 10-9-11-30
Goaltenders: Hincei (win) 60:00, 30-28-2; Loewen (loss) 58:37, 22-19-3.
Power plays: Knoxville 1 of 3; Columbus 1 of 5.
Referee: Sheehan. Linesmen: Dioughy, Kuerston.