The Columbus Cottonmouths limped to their locker room at the Columbus Civic Center following a shaky second period in which they allowed the visiting Huntsville Havoc four goals.
An hour later, the same locker room was jubilant following a 6-4 come-from-behind victory.
The Snakes were led by their newest member. Rookie forward Preston Shupe notched his first professional hat trick in only his ninth game.
Signed by the team on Jan. 4, Shupe scored the Snakes' only goal in the second period and two crucial ones in the third.
The line of Shupe, Neilsson Arcibal and Tory Allan produced big dividends. Led by Shupe's four points, Arcibal and Allan each chipped in two.
"My linemates both had great games tonight," Shupe said. "We've had chances and tonight we went out and scored. They got me the puck and I was able to put it in the net. It was good to bounce back and get this win. They surprised us in the second period but we came out in the third and pushed out. We talked about it before the third. Win a period, win the game."
The Snakes jumped to a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by Arcibal and defenseman Jason Gray. Gray's came on the power play.
"We worked a lot on the power play this week," Gray said. "We wanted to get good motion. Tom (Maldonado) made a great play to get me the puck."
The second period was a different story. The Havoc scored four times on the 20 shots they fired at goaltender Andrew Loewen. Shupe's first goal of the night was the only Columbus tally of the period.
After the period, the Snakes did some soul searching.
"In between the second and third, we knew we had to eliminate the soft play and bear down," center Sam Bowles said.
"It was a little disappointing. We'd been playing well the whole game. They got bounces and they capitalized on them. We went up 2-0 but then we didn't capitalize. We didn't put them away."
The Havoc took a 4-3 lead into the second intermission. In the dramatic third period, Arcibal passed the puck to Shupe, who carried it into the Huntsville zone and flipped it by goaltender Kevin Genoe at the 11:19 mark to tie the score 4-4.
Bowles, who came out of retirement in early January to rejoin the team, once again scored a key goal. Jordan Draper found Bowles right in front of Genoe, put the puck on his stick and Bowles fired it in to put the Snakes up 5-4 at the 12:43 mark of the third.
Shupe's hat trick came with only 1:02 to play. The Snakes controlled the puck in the Huntsville zone late in the game so the Havoc were unable to pull Genoe until after Shupe's last goal. Genoe left the net with 51 seconds to play and Huntsville down by two.
The Snakes remain in sixth place in the SPHL standings. They are five points behind Peoria. The Snakes make their only trip to Peoria on Feb. 7-8.
The weekend's action concludes in Southaven, Miss. when the Cottonmouths square off against the Mississippi RiverKings tonight at 8:05.
Huntsville 0 4 0
Columbus 2 1 3
First period--1, Columbus, Arcibal (Shupe) 12:23; 2, Columbus, Gray (Maldonado, Bowles) 16:49. Penalties--Gingera, Columbus (hooking) 1:25; Alexander, Huntsville (roughing) 5:41; Aide, Columbus (roughing) 5:41; Allan, Columbus (hooking) 9:42; Harff, Huntsville (interference) 15:38.
Second period--3, Huntsville, Ortiz (Harris) 10:02; 4, Huntsville, Cseter (Lazorko) 12:51; 5, Columbus, Shupe (Allan, Gray) 15:05; 6, Huntsville, Alexander (Stefan, Gurtler) 15:18; 7, Huntsville, Lazorko (Alexander) 18:25. Penalties--Allan, Columbus (slashing) 2:45; Sawyer, Huntsville (tripping) 3:04; Aide, Columbus (unsportsmanlike conduct) 3:50.
Third period--8, Columbus, Shupe (Arcibal) 11:19; 9, Columbus, Bowles (Draper) 12:43; 10, Columbus, Shupe (Allan) 18:58. Penalties--Cseter, Huntsville (tripping) 7:31.
Shots on goal: Huntsville 10 20 13--43
Columbus 11 16 19--46
Power plays: Huntsville 0 of 5; Columbus 1 of 2.
Goaltenders: Loewen (win) 60:00 43 39 4 ; Genoe (loss) 59:09 46 40 6.
Referee: MacDougall. Linesmen: Duncan, Senger. Time: 2:25. Attendance: 2617.