Later this morning, Lindsey and I head to Biloxi. What's in store for us there? Talk about the thrill of victory or agony of defeat...
The Snakes didn't get the job done on Thursday night. They played well but the Surge took full advantage of a couple of opportunites.
One tailor-made chance for a goal was the gift the ref gave the Surge in the third period. Kyle was zapped with a minor penalty. The score was 2-2 at the time. Just as I finished groaning about giving the Surge another power play, he nailed Dan as well. The call was right in front of me and, I have to tell you, it was marginal at best...ugh.
You know the rest of the story. The Snakes killed all but 17 seconds of the penalty before Mississippi got the go-ahead goalm and then a second one. That was the real killer. A one-goal lead the Snakes can, and certainly have, come back from. But two? Not tonight.
Now we all trek over to Biloxi to witness what? A miraculous two-game road win streak? Or Craig Stahl's last moments in a Snakes sweater.
I keep telling myself that it can't be worse than the last three years of "will he or won't he/is this his last game?" agony. In Jacksonville three years ago, the tables were reversed. Jax was the 6 seed and the Snakes number one. After losing those two overtime stunners at the Pit, the Snakes went to Jax and won one. They took a 3-1 lead into the final period and lost 4-3.
I never did see Craig that night. He's ALWAYS available to me. This was the first time. He planned to retire that year and was pretty sure it was his last game. He was inconsolable. His dad made the trip and Ken remained in the locker room for the longest time. I finally went back to the hotel, but he was in there well over an hour.
In 2008, the scene was Knoxville and a crucial game 5. After the Snakes were eliminated, I interviewed Craig as he struggled to talk through his tears.
Last season, Fayetteville was the Snakes' opponent and the deciding game was a 2-0 shutout...at home. That's when Jerome invited me into the locker room and I witnessed the Captain addressing his troops. It was horrible. The saddest scene I've ever witnessed, until...
...this year. It's going to be even worse. Heart-wrenching for Craig because of the love he has for the game and for this team. Hard for the guys because they'd love to give Craig the Cup as a parting gift. I don't look forward to it and am afraid it'll happen this weekend.
Winning two in a row on the road? Under these circumstances?
Extremely difficult, but stranger things have happened.