Step One

Posted on December 21, 2013 

     Great beginning to this three-in-three weekend for the Snakes on Friday night! Third straight road win. W in the first meeting of the year against the Mississippi Surge. Solid game front to back. Where to begin?

     After losing five straight, the Cottonmouths have now won three out of their last four. Even more importantly, they've scored a whopping 18 goals in these three victories. This would be a significant achievement for any team. But for a team averaging fewer than three per game, this is a very good thing. :)

     Andrew Loewen got all three wins. He made all kinds of saves...the spectacular, routine and lucky. Oops...forget that last one. Any goalie will tell you that any win involves a degree of luck. The past few games, Andrew hasn't needed much!

     The return of Mike Switzer greatly boosted the D, as I thought it would. I know we've only gotten to see Mike for 8 games because he got hurt. But the man has already overcome a lot at the beginning of the season. He didn't make the starting roster, but was added after only two games when Kevin Kessler was waived. Then he spent 30 days on the shelf. 

     When I saw Mike at the Medical Center when the team visited the children, he was like a kid on Christmas morning. He'd already started skating and planned to play this weekend. He was just cleared yesterday and in the lineup tonight. Mike chipped in two assists for good measure.

     This means the Snakes are playing with 6 actual defensemen for the first time in a month. Having a complete corps paid dividends tonight. Mike was paired with Tom Maldonado, as he was before he got hurt. I think those two do well together. 

      Numbers don't tell the whole story, especially on D. Tonight was a strong night for all six guys. Hate to single just one guy out, but Andy Willigar had a solid night. Good job by all.

      The power play was a healthy three-of-four. Gotta love those numbers. The Snakes are now tops in the SPHL with a man advantage (22.55%). The moved ahead of the Surge, who came into Friday's game with the top PP unit.

      The PK is sixth of 10 teams at 80%. Against the Surge, the PK unit successfully killed four of five. Again, great numbers.

       I hope ya'all liked my story on newcomers Steve Mele and Neilsson Arcibal. Steve, the reigning SPHL player of the week, contributed one assist. Neilsson had a goal and an assist. I think you could say both of the new guys are settling in quite nicely!

      This night belonged to Tory Allan offensively, with quite a few guys vying for runner-up. Tory had two goals and one assist. He didn't get the hat trick, but not for lack of trying. His teammates tried their best to get him the puck, but it didn't happen. Still, a three-point night is nothing to sneeze at.

      Great night for Jordan Braid, who had a goal and an assist. Will Aide had a goal and Jordan Draper and Jason Gray had an assist. In all, eight different guys had a hand in the scoring. Balanced scoring wins games.

      A couple of fights on the night. Kudos to Alex Gallant for giving up 30 pounds and six inches to Bill Baker, yet still winning the fight over the big guy. Speaking of big guys, Tom took exception when Tommy Lange drilled Neilsson. In his second pro fight, standing 5-9 in skates, Tom went after the 6-2 Lange.

      As Mike Vee noted, when one of the smallest guys on the team stands up for his teammate, everyone takes notice. Good job, Tom!

      Tory's second PPG gave the Cottonmouths a tiny bit of breathing room, 5-3, with just over 11 minutes to play. It was the first time either team had managed more than a one-goal cushion. Two minutes later, the PK was given its toughest test.

      Will was slapped with a five-minute major for elbowing and given a gamer. Behind by only two, the Surge could take advantage of this extended PP by scoring as many times as they could in five minutes. They managed only three SOG and the Snakes successfully killed it.

       Shortly after killing the major, the Snakes got a huge break when a MSS goal was disallowed. As I've told ya'all many times, the goalie's reaction always tells me a lot. Andrew rarely pitches a fit or tries to talk the ref out of a goal. He hangs his head, occasionally whacks his stick against the ice or the net, but is usually pretty tame.

      Andrew immediately hollered and gestured that the puck was played with a high stick. Credit to referee Terrence Murphy. It looked like one of the linesmen concurred with Andrew and told the ref. He immediately disallowed it. 

     With all of these positives taken from this game, there is one burning question...

     Will the home fans finally get to experience the thrill of victory in the rematch vs the Surge on Saturday night? The Snakes have only two wins at home, Nov 1 over Huntsville and a shootout win on Nov 22 over Fayetteville.

      Lots of scoring. Good goaltending and home. How about it, guys?

      Stay tuned.


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