Columbus Cottonmouths coach Jerome Bechard summarized his struggling team's recent 0-2-1 weekend simply.
"We gave away 15 goals," Bechard said.
The Snakes traveled to Southaven, Miss. to face the RiverKings Friday and to Knoxville on Saturday, returning home to meet Huntsville in a Sunday matinee. The Cottonmouths earned only one of a possible six points with an overtime loss to the RiverKings.
The Kings defeated the Snakes 3-2 and the Ice Bears thumped them 9-4. Huntsville took home a 6-2 victory.
After coming from behind and salvaging a point on Friday night, Bechard was optimistic about the rest of the weekend.
"You always want to go .500 on the road," Bechard said. "You always like to get two points, but one point on Friday was fine."
"We had a really good road game on Friday," Bechard said. "Then on Saturday we just forgot what to do, Maybe one of the goals Travis Bosch gave up on Saturday was his. The rest were a team effort. It was pretty bad."
Bechard was still feeling positive when the Snakes returned home on Sunday to face Huntsville. The previous meeting between the Snakes and Havoc ended up in the win column for Columbus, despite the Snakes' falling into an early 4-0 hole.
Sunday's game started out much the same way. Huntsville leaped to 2-0 lead when the game was only 6:03 old, a lead the Havoc would not relinquish.
"Sunday was more of the same," Bechard said. "We grabbed a little momentum in the second period, but it didn't last long. I was not very happy with the forwards or the defensemen. (Goaltender) Andrew Loewen was below average."
The season is now four weekends old and the Snakes have a 3-5-1 record, which is tied for seventh place among the SPHL's 10 teams. They are 2-2-1 on the road and only 1-3 at home.
Bechard has searched for reasons for the team's poor performance last weekend.
"We have no excuses, but there are reasons," Bechard said. "The guys were mentally drained. A lot of the guys had never played three games in three nights in three different cities. A lot of them experienced all of the travel for the first time. The guys were not physically or mentally ready."
In addition to blending new players into his system, Bechard is already juggling his roster due to injuries.
Defenseman Chris Bailer missed all of last weekend's action after suffering a mild concussion in practice the previous Monday. Bailer resumed practice this week and Bechard is hopeful he'll get to play this weekend. Defenseman Mike Switzer suffered a knee injury on a routine play on Sunday and underwent an MRI on Tuesday. Bechard is awaiting those test results.
In the meantime, Daniel Amesbury has moved back to the blue line. If Bailer returns this weekend, the Snakes can play temporarily with five defensemen rather than the usual six. Bechard is searching for a new defenseman, in case Bailer's return is delayed and Switzer gets bad news.
"I've been browsing around preparing for the worst but hoping for the best," Bechard said. "Danny Amesbury did an admirable job on defense last weekend and he could play there this weekend. If we get Chris back, I won't be too concerned."
The Snakes signed forward Alex Gallant to a three-game tryout, but Gallant played only 4:33 before his Snakes' career was interrupted. On Saturday night, Gallant was slapped with a five-minor major and game misconduct for checking from behind. He was suspended for Sunday's contest and will miss both games this weekend.
The Snakes play a home-and-home series with Fayetteville tonight and Saturday night. After the 7:30 contest at the Snake Pit, both teams will head north. Game two will be at the Crown Coliseum on Saturday at 7:30.