A dreary morning in Columbus, Georgia continues the feeling of late last night...ugh. This was such a tough game to lose. The Snakes dominated from the drop of the puck and have nothing to show for their efforts. Is it too late to rescind the "all or nothing" rule? Guess so, but it sure would've been nice to have one point for all that work.
My husband walked in the room and I told him the SOG advantage was 10-1 midway through the period. He reasonably asked who the 10 belonged to. The Snakes had held the Ice Bears to a single shot in half a period! Unbelievable. They clogged up the neutral zone so thoroughly that Knoxville could get nothing going offensively.
The Cottonmouths took the early lead on a goal by Jordan, with assists from Will and Brett. That was the good news, which didn't last long.
Bret was nailed right in the helmet with a shot by Tyler Fletcher. He dropped to the ice, where he stayed for longer than I'd like. Hannah came out to see about him. Bret got up and skated off under his own power, but looked very wobbly. I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but it looks like a concussion to me. He didn't return to action for the rest of the night. I'm going to call Jerome a little later and check on him. Since they were on the road half the night, I don't want to call too early. Will update you on Bret's condition as soon as I know anything.
More on the bad news front. Nearing the end of the first period, the Snakes have failed to convert on three power play chances. I'm starting to get a bad feeling, as those are golden opportunities to score. Sure enough, Brody is whistled for tripping and it takes them only 14 seconds to bury it. Buccella went five-hole and I'm not at all sure Ian ever saw it. 1-1 after one.
Early in the second, another Snakes PP fails. Mitch is sent to the box and, you guessed it, Knoxville takes advantage. Van Vliet goal gives the Ice Bears a 2-1 lead only 12 seconds into the PP.
The Snakes battled back...again...when Brett went five-hole on Gallant for the tying goal late in the period.
Even though there's a whole period to play, I'm getting the feeling that this is going to be a one-goal slugfest. You score, they score, you score, they score. Whoever scores before the final horn gets the W. Not thinking about OT just yet.
Tom scored a pretty goal early in the third. You know how Jerome always tells them to SHOOT and good things could happen? Well, Tom took a loooooong shot and zoomed to the front of the net. The rebound came right on his stick and he buried it. As I often do, I hollered at the computer on that one.
Things looking good again, though the one-goal lead is pretty tenuous. Right after Tom's goal, Ian stopped Segal on a breakaway and the Snakes spent an entire PP in the Knoxville zone. No goal, but lots of pressure. Orrin had a short-handed attempt on a breakaway. Then...the bottom fell out.
Pete is called for hooking, his second consecutive penalty in a crucial four-minute span. The guys are quick to tell me there's a difference between good and bad penalties, which I've learned to recognize, but not on the web. Just can't see enough of the ice. If an opponent has a clear shot and is streaking toward the net, a hook is better than a goal, definitely. Before I throw Pete under the bus, will get an assessment of the value of the penalty that led to the tying goal.
The hardest thing to take, other than losing a lead so late, is that there were only 7 seconds left on the PP. Ugh.
Buccella's deflection tied it 3-3 with 3:48 to play. Another anxious moment when Tom was called for holding, but the Snakes killed off the penalty and the rest of the period. Overtime was looming.
The Ice Bears had a seven-second PP to start OT, which worked out well all the way around. When Tom comes out of the box, the teams skate four-on-four until there's a stoppage of play. In this case, it lasted a couple of minutes. I hate three-on-three. Too much wide open ice and the team that wins is usually the one that takes advantage of a terrible mistake by the other team.
In the extra period, both teams had chances, but, to tell you the truth, Knoxville should've won it in OT. Mike Tuomi tried a wrap-around. Ian was committed to the other side of the net and it was WIDE open. Tuomi couldn't pull the trigger and the Snakes were saved...for then.
In the shootout, Knoxville put two by Ian, while Orrin, Jordan, Jesse and Brett failed for the Snakes. Game over. No points. So disappointing.
Disappointing doesn't begin to describe special teams on this night. The Snakes PK has been exemplary all season long. Last night, it gave up 3 goals on 6 tries. Yikes. The PP started off well early in the season, but has been falling steadily since. No goals in 7 tries is pretty awful, especially in a one-goal game.
The PK is still tops in the league at 86.15%, which is terrific. The PP fell to 17.59%, which is 5th in the league. Lack of a PPG meant a lot in this game and will mean a lot down the stretch.
Knoxville and the Snakes now have identical 18-19 records and are tied for 5th place. One reason this road trip is so important is that the teams in 4th-7th place are separated by a whopping 8 points. For that matter, the Snakes are only 10 points out of FIRST!!! This will be anybody's race down to the end of March. Every two points matter and this was a game that definitely should have been a W. They played well enough to win.
On to Augusta. The Snakes are 0-3 in that building. I talked to Sam yesterday and he told me that they have a small ice surface, similar to Knoxville. We all know how long it took the Cottonmouths to adjust to playing on the mini-ice in Knoxville. Well, they have adjusted to it and last night almost beat the Ice Bears at their own game. When the Snakes first went to Knoxville seven years ago, the small neutral ice area didn't allow them to get their offense going. Their passing sequences were constantly interrupted and shut down. That's what they did to Knoxville last night.
Don't know what the problem is in Augusta, but tonight would be a great night to solve it! Second of three straight, coming off a disappointing loss and facing a long trip to Fayetteville for game three.
Am very concerned about Ian playing three in a row. But, as Sam said, if anybody can do it, Ian can. He is in excellent physical shape and prides himself on his conditioning. This will be a big test as Andrew has left for greener pastures in South Carolina (ECHL). Apparently, the Stingrays are out of goalies! Their NHL and AHL affiliates raided their goaltenders and they were in a bind. Andrew is supposed to get plenty of playing time. When Ian did the SC shuttle a couple of years ago, he did great!! Hopefully Andrew will have a lot of success...but come back soon!
Sammy got his stitches out yesterday and Dr. Flandry said that everything looks great. Like a caged lion, Sam is dying to get back out there in 10 days. He is rehabbing faithfully, but the affected area still has a long way to go.
KG: So, will you be ready to play in 10 days? Sam: I'll be playing in 10 days. Playing with words a little bit, Sam? Hmmmmm.
Since Sam played three games before this injury was diagnosed, I have no doubt he plans to be out there, with on-the-ice rehab, but unless I miss my guess, he won't be full-strength in 10 days.
Sam and Daryl will be doing some serious bonding this weekend as all their pals are on this trip. Sam said that three weeks of rest should help Daryl's injury considerably. It'll be evaluated at that time. So, it's possible the Snakes could miss both Sam and Daryl for the whole 30 days. Not good. They missed both in the shootout last night.
New day. New game tonight. Breaking the Augusta hex. Two points.