Well, Snakes fans, the team definitely saved the best for last on this long, long, long road trip.
Coming into Fayetteville, they'd lost a game they should have won and one they could have won. To me, the loss in Knoxville hurt more because they played so well. Last night in Augusta...well, let's just say there isn't a lot positive to take from that game, including the final score.
Then they had to make the trip all the way up to Fayetteville. I was very worried about Ian playing his third game in as many nights. Even when you're in excellent physical condition as Ian is, that's a tough thing to do.
Fayetteville celebrated Military Appreciation Night and had a large crowd in attendance. The key there is to keep them quiet, which I think the Snakes did. That was the quietest 5851 I've ever heard. How did the Cottonmouths do it? By playing 60 minutes of solid hockey.
Ian was all over the place in the first period. If he was tired, nobody could tell. He was flat on his back, on his belly, everywhere. I texted Lindsey and celebrated the fact that the Snakes were ahead after one...0-0. haha.
One of the two biggest moments of this game, in my humble opinion, came early in the second, when it was still scoreless. Fayetteville took a 1-0 lead when Leveille hit in about the 10th rebound. The whole Fayetteville team was in the crease whacking away at the puck until finally it dribbled in.
The big moment came in how the Snakes responded. Only 1:19 later, Matt came streaking down the left side, all alone and flipped the puck inside the post to tie it. Again, if this was a tired team, I'd defy anybody to see it. The Fayetteville goal energized rather than defeated them.
If the tying goal was good, even better was the next goal. Only 48 seconds later, Brett and Jesse attacked the Fayetteville zone two-on-one. A beautiful pass from Brett right on to Jesse's stick and...boom, a 2-1 Snakes lead. No goals in the first...three goals in 2:07. Whatever energy the Fayetteville goal provided, the one-two punch by Matt and Jesse killed it. Very exciting!
Orrin and Jordan teamed up to give the Snakes a nice 3-1 lead after two. You realize what I'm saying: THREE goals in what is usually their worst period of hockey. At this point, though, the old adage of a two-goal lead being the worst lead in hockey is running through my mind.
The beginning of the third period was a preview of things to come. Fayetteville trails by two, yet the Snakes fire 7 straight shots on Yonkman. Huh? The first FireAntz SOG came 6:24 into the period. The Snakes kept the pressure going until Jesse's empty netter sealed the win with 1:13 left.
A truly great victory under trying circumstances. Facing three difficult road games, you know as well as I do that they didn't want to be winless going into the last one. Friday night's loss had to be so disappointing. Yet they put together a solid effort tonight and were rewarded with a W.
Also on the good news front, Andrew grabbed his first ECHL win. Awesome job, Andrew!!! Time to come home. :)
More good news was Bret's return. He sat out last night after taking a puck in the ear on Thursday night. Welcome back, Bret.
On the funny side: congrats to my pal Barney Slayton. According to Pointstreak, Barney picked up a 4-1 victory over Fayetteville tonight, stopping 34 of 35 shots. Quick...somebody print up this box score for Barney before it's corrected!
With Mississippi and Pensacola enjoying the night off, Huntsville had a great opportunity to move into a tie with Pensacola for second place. Instead, the Havoc dropped their second in a row. Louisiana blanked them 3-0 in Huntsville on Friday night and they lost in Knoxville, 3-2, tonight.
To show you how crazy this league can be: Louisiana pitches a shutout in Huntsville one night and gets clobbered 10-3 in Augusta 24 hours later.
The leaderboard is still very crowded. The Snakes and Knoxville have 38 points, 10 behind first-place Mississippi. Pensacola (46) is alone in second, followed by Augusta and Huntsville (44) tied for third. The win put a little bit of distance between the Snakes and seventh-place Fayetteville (34) and Louisiana remains in the cellar (18).
I don't know about you, but I'm certainly ready for a couple of games at the Snake Pit next weekend!! Knoxville comes to town on Friday night and Pensacola on Saturday.