Cottonmouths: 5 Keys to Victory
1. Share the wealth
Most teams have one primary scoring line. The Snakes have two, plus a checking line that can produce. The Neilsson Arcibal-Preston Shupe-Shayne Stockton must continue to light the lamp as well as the grinders. The Matt Gingera-Sam Bowles-Jordan Draper line leads the offensive charge.
2. Let's get ready to rumble
Fighting decreases in the playoffs, but not hard-nosed, physical play. That's Cottonmouths hockey and if the Snakes play their preferred physical style, they win.
3. Snakes are special
The Snakes' special teams must improve against Pensacola. Through the first two rounds, the power play is sitting at 14.29 percent (T-4th) and the penalty kill is 82.35 percent (T-6th). Pensacola is No. 1 in both (21.43 percent, 86.67 percent).
4. Draw first blood
The Snakes scored first in 26 regular season games (16-8-2) and Pensacola in 37 (29-4-4). In five playoff games, Columbus is 4-1. The Snakes scored first in three of their four wins.
5. Keep it simple
The Snakes need to score at least three goals and leave the rest to goalie Andrew Loewen and his defensemen. The Cottonmouths won 18 of 20 regular season games when they followed this blueprint. In the playoffs, Columbus' only loss was a shutout. In the Snakes' four wins, they scored 6, 4, 1 and 4 goals.
-- Kathy Gierer