Snakes make push toward securing playoff berth
By KATHY GIERER
Special to the Ledger-Enquirer
The streaking Columbus Cottonmouths posted their fourth consecutive win and sixth in their last seven games.
The Snakes beat ninth-place Fayetteville 8-5 in front of a slim crowd of 1,402 at the Columbus Civic Center.
The Cottonmouths opened up a more comfortable lead over the FireAntz in the Southern Professional Hockey League standings as the regular season comes to a close.
With eight regular season contests left, the Snakes are in seventh place, with the top eight teams entering postseason play.
With the victory, their lead over the eighth-place Mississippi Surge is now two points. If the season ended now, Fayetteville and Bloomington would be left out.
The Snakes are currently 10 points ahead of the FireAntz and 11 in front of Bloomington.
Bloomington comes to the Civic Center for two contests this weekend. Game time on Friday and Saturday is 7:30 p.m.
Rookie goaltender Curtis Martinu earned his second straight professional win and forward Preston Shupe scored a pure hat trick, three straight goals scored in a single period.
The seesaw contest saw the Cottonmouths take an early 1-0 lead which stood up for the whole first period.
The highlight of the first period was the battle between two SPHL heavyweights. The Snakes' Alex Gallant and Fayetteville's Ryan Hand dropped the gloves at the 13:37 mark of the first. Both fighters sustained cuts, were stitched up and returned to action.
The teams traded goals in the second and the score was tied 3-3 going into the final
20 minutes of play.
The Snakes' power play succeeded against the league's top penalty-killing unit. Columbus scored a pair of power play goals in the final period. Shupe scored once on the power play, as did Matt Gingera.
The Snakes spread around the scoring with five different players tallying goals and six chipping in assists.
Shupe led all scorers with four points, three goals and an assist.
Steve Mele scored a pair of goals and Levi Lind had one goal and one assist. Neilsson Arcibal chipped in a pair of assists.
The Snakes have five regular season games remaining at home and only two on the road. Their home record improved to 12-10-1.
Thursday at the Civic Center
Fayetteville 0 3 2--5
Columbus 1 2 5--8
First period--1, Columbus, Aide (Ronsberg) 7:20. Penalties--Gallant, Columbus (fighting, equipment violation) 13:57; Hand, Fayetteville (fighting, equipment violation) 13:57.
Second period--2, Fayetteville, Toy (Clelow, Tamlyn)3:45 PPG; 3, Columbus, Mele (unassisted) 10:21; 4, Fayetteville, Clelow (Reed) 11:16; 5, Fayetteville, Reed (McNeil, Craven)11:59; 6, Columbus, Lind (Arcibal) 15:32 PPG.
Third period--7, Fayetteville, Tamblyn (Toy) :48 SHG; 8, Columbus, Gingera (Gray) 5:38 PPG; 9,Columbus, Shupe (Willigar) PPG 6:33; 10, Columbus, Shupe (unassisted) 8:50; 11, Columbus, Shupe (Lind) 9:26; 12, Fayetteville, Carriveau (Tamblyn) 12:51; 13, Columbus, Mele (Arcibal, Shupe) eng 19:39. Penalties--Barr, Fayetteville (slashing) 4:57; Craven, Fayetteville (hooking) 5:38; Richardson, Fayetteville (slashing, verbal abuse of officials, 10-minute misconduct, game misconduct); Arcibal, Columbus (cross-checking) 11:10; Toy, Fayetteville (slashing) 11:10; Lind, Columbus (hooking) 11:29; Johnson, Columbus (slashing) 16:44; Olauson, Fayetteville (throwing equipment, game misconduct) 19:39; Edwards, Fayetteville (verbal abuse of officials, game misconduct) 20:00.
Shots on goal: Fayetteville 10-14-14-38; Columbus 15-13-30-58
Power plays: Fayetteville 2 of 5; Columbus 3 of 5
Goaltenders: Martinu (win) 60:00 38-33-5; Skoggard (loss) 49:26 46-39-7; Carlson 11-11-0.
Referee: Sheehan. Linesmen: Doughy, Winkler.
Time: 2:36; Attendance: 1402