Before heading to Columbus in mid-October for training camp, Columbus Cottonmouths forward Tory Allan commented that he hoped to be a big part of the offense.
Halfway through his first professional hockey season, Allan is getting his wish.
Allan, a Davidson, Saskatchewan native, is currently the third leading scorer on the Snakes roster. He is currently seventh among active rookies in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
"It's worked out pretty well so far," Allan said. "I've always been a scorer. It's fun. I want to continue the same way and maybe get a few more. You always think of the ones you missed."
Allan has scored 24 points in 31 games played, 10 goals and 14 assists, the points coming in bunches. "At Christmas, my goal was to be more consistent in the second half," Allan said.
Allan, 25, played three years of juniors with the Humboldt Broncos before attending Norwich University for three years. In his last year at each level, Allan was near the point-per-game mark. The big difference was the length of both schedules. Allan played a 55-game season with the Broncos, while the Norwich season lasted only 29 games.
"This is more like juniors, but there's not as much travel as juniors," Allan said. "It's the same length schedule. It's like college in that most games are on the weekend. The games are more spread out in juniors."
Allan is playing on a line with newcomers Neilsson Arcibal and Preston Shupe. Allan has played all 31 games this season, while Arcibal has been in 17 and Shupe only six.
"Since Preston came in, we've developed a lot of chemistry," Allan said. "He's been playing well and has a lot of skill."
The SPHL's 56-game regular season is similar to juniors, but different in one significant way.
"The travel is the worst thing," Allan said. "The three-in-threes were tough at first. But I like games better than practice."
The worst trips aren't necessarily the longest. Peoria is the only SPHL city Allan has yet to visit, but the Snakes have made one journey to Bloomington, which is nearly 600 miles from Columbus.
"The Bloomington trip was not too bad," Allan said. "We left here on Wednesday at midnight, had a Thursday skate and then played Friday and Saturday and came home."
Allan contrasted the Bloomington trip to last weekend's schedule which involved two separate trips to Fayetteville.
"We drove eight hours to Fayetteville on Friday and eight hours home," Allan said. "We played on Saturday night and had Sunday off. Then on Monday, we drove eight hours to Fayetteville and back. The bus trips are exhausting."
Allan has visited eight of the nine SPHL arenas, with a trip to Peoria on the horizon in early February.
"I had a lot of fun in Louisiana," Allan said. "Knoxville has a good atmosphere. Their fans really get into it. I'd say my least favorite is Fayetteville. There was such a dead atmosphere when we played there Monday night. It was not an intense game at all."
The Snakes came into the three-day weekend poised to make a run at the league's top tier. Entering Friday night's contest in Huntsville against the first-place Havoc, the Snakes were in a three-way tie for seventh place among the league's 10 teams. In the tight SPHL standings, the Snakes' 30 points are only 12 points behind Huntsville (42 points). Bunched behind Huntsville are the Mississippi RiverKings (41) and Pensacola (40). Louisiana, the Snakes' opponent for today and Sunday, sits in fourth place (37), followed by Peoria (33) and the Mississippi Surge (31). Tied with the Snakes are Knoxville and Fayetteville. Currently in the SPHL basement is Bloomington (27).
Game time for today's home contest against Louisiana is 7:30 p.m. The Sunday matinee begins at 4 p.m.