Cottonmouths to play Peoria in first round of postseason

Cottonmouths enter postseason as No. 6 seed

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerMarch 23, 2014 

Columbus CottonmouthsColumbus' Preston Shupe played on his first day in Columbus.

The Southern Professional Hockey League playoff pairings were not decided until late Saturday night, the last night of the regular season.

The final night didn't end well for the Columbus Cottonmouths as they earned the playoffs' sixth seed.

The Snakes will make an 814-mile bus ride to third-seeded Peoria to open round one on Wednesday night at 8:15. Game 2 will be at the Columbus Civic Center on Friday night at 7:30. If necessary, the deciding game of the best-of-three series will be Sunday in Peoria.

The Snakes dropped a 3-2 decision in Huntsville, but their playoff fate was sealed earlier in the evening. Knoxville and the Cottonmouths were battling for sixth and seventh place. While the sixth-place team faces the lengthy trip to Peoria, the seventh seed earned the right to host the entire best-of-three series at home because second-seeded Louisiana, its playoff opponent, has no ice availability.

Knoxville lost its final regular-season game, 6-3 to Louisiana, but won home ice advantage. Columbus and Knoxville finished tied with 57 points, but Columbus finished in sixth due to the first tie-breaker, which is number of wins. The Snakes won 27 games compared to 25 for Knoxville.

The Mississippi RiverKings also have no home ice available, so Huntsville will host the whole first round.

The first-round pairings are as follows: Mississippi Surge (8) at Pensacola (1), Louisiana (2) at Knoxville (7), Columbus (6) at Peoria (3), Mississippi RiverKings (4) at Huntsville (5).

Shannon Szabados got her second start in goal on Saturday night, stopping 32 of 35 shots. Only the Havoc's Nick Lazorko could solve Szabados. Lazorko netted a hat trick, with the game winner coming on a penalty shot at the :32 mark of the third period. Szabados, the league's first female player, is now 0-2 since joining the professional ranks with the Cottonmouths on March 12.

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