The Columbus Cottonmouths got off to a rocky start on their road trip down the Interstate 10 corridor. The Snakes lost to the last-place Louisiana IceGators 5-2. Game 2 is in Biloxi tonight and the Cottonmouths return home for a Sunday matinee against Knoxville.
The resurgent Gators posted their fourth straight victory. Earlier in the season, Louisiana put together a record-setting 20-game losing streak. The Snakes lost to Louisiana for the first time this season after posting five straight wins.
Mike Brown won the battle of the goaltenders over Columbus’ Andrew Loewen. The Snakes peppered Brown with 47 shots, but Brett Hammond was the only Snake who could solve him.
The veteran forward broke up the shutout with a shorthanded goal with only 1:03 remaining in the second period. Not only did Hammond’s goal put the Snakes on the board, but it trimmed the Gators’ lead to 3-1 entering the final 20 minutes of play.Louisiana countered with a shorthanded goal of its own early in the third and, again, Hammond cut the lead to 4-2 with another unassisted goal.
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Mark Versteeg-Lytwyn put the game away with a goal at the 12:56 mark of the final period.
The Cottonmouths failed to score on six power play opportunities and gave up one power play goal to the Gators.
Tonight the Snakes will face the SPHL’s top team in the Mississippi Surge. The Surge solidified their top spot with a 5-3 victory over Huntsville. The Snakes remain alone in fifth place. Knoxville failed to gain ground on Columbus, as the Ice Bears dropped a 3-2 decision at home to Fayetteville.
Game time tonight in Mississippi is 8:05.