A perfect weekend for the Snakes...2-0, 4 of a possible 4 points. A W over a team you've done pretty well against and one over a team you're chasing. Life at the Snake Pit is pretty good right now.
I need to regress for a moment. As promised, I asked Scott Brand, Officiating Development Coordinator at USA Hockey, about the five-minute major called on Dave in last night's game.
Me: Was it a major, Scott? Scott: It was called a major (smile). Message received.
Scott said, first of all, there was no injury. A major penalty carries with it intent to injure. The Knoxville player turned into Dave's check. It should've been a minor boarding penalty.
Back to the Pensacola game. This makes two straight wins over a very good hockey team. Since the 9-1 spanking the Ice Flyers gave the Cottonmouths on that unhappy New Year's Day, the Snakes have rebounded with a 3-0 shutout and tonight's 4-3 come-from-behind-and-hang-on win. That says something about this team.
Since Jan. 1, the Snakes have battled through some tough times. Losing Sam and Daryl on back-to-back nights and still winning 6 out of 10 games has been a real confidence builder. A stunning fact: Despite missing 30 days and a total of 10 games, Sammy is only two points behind Jesse for the scoring lead. Daryl is only a point behind Sam. Why? Because EVERYbody is scoring these days! On Friday night, 10 Snakes scored and 9 did on Saturday.
Jerome and I have talked about this many times. When you have one big scorer or one big line, a team can key on it. They can shut this line down and stop the offense. On the other hand, every Snakes line is capable of putting up points.
Take tonight, for example. Levi (on the line with Jesse and Brett) scored one goal. Jordan (with Orrin and Joe the new guy) had two and Matt (with Pete and Mitch) had one. Balanced scoring if I've ever seen it.
After the game, Levi was pretty happy as was Jordan. But I have to say that Sammy was practically dancing into the lockerroom. I said..."well, Sam...last time for me to see you in street clothes for a while." His reply: "I come off the IR and will get to play next weekend instead of watching!" Hurray for Sam...what a long 30 days!
Daryl will get his x-ray early this week. If he gets the go-ahead to play, good for Daryl and good for the team, but then Jerome has to get rid of somebody and mess with the lines again. You know how superstitious hockey coaches and players are. These lines have been a work in progress, but have now won three straight. Maybe Jerome will just bench Sammy and Daryl...haha.
This was a really physical game. Winning cures all ills, but there will be some sore Snakes in the morning. Tom appeared to have taken a slash which doubled him over for a minute. Dave blocked a shot which hurt ME...can't imagine how he felt. Both of these D-men played through it and remained in the game.
There was a lot of pushing and shoving as well. A lot of "grab a partner and look around to see what everybody else is doing". The funniest moment came at the end of the second period. At the buzzer, the linesmen were breaking up all the partners and herding the players to their respective locker rooms when Ian casually skates toward Ryan Scott.
Now we all knew that Ian couldn't fight. He doesn't normally fight anyway, but he really couldn't unless we had a longer than usual timeout so Andrew could get down here and take his place. Of course, Ian was just getting our heartbeats up a little. He and Scott just stood and chatted until the period officially ended. I wonder what Barney was thinking at this point? :)
A question I need to get answered was what in the world Schultz did to Will to set him off at the final buzzer. We've seen Will fight many times and stand up for his teammates a million other times with a well-placed shove or a few well-chosen words or phrases. But Will was absolutely livid in trying to get to Schultz. They were smashed up against the glass right in front of me and the linesmen couldn't get them to stop.
A final tap of the stick to Orrin, who is having his best season in several years. It was interesting to hear that Jerome doesn't necessarily think Orrin's gotten faster...just smarter. Using his speed and quickness to his best advantage and that of the team. All I know is that Orrin was the playmaker in Jordan's two goals. Without Orrin, Jordan doesn't score those two wraparounds and the Snakes don't win. It's no coincidence that Orrin appears to be enjoying the game more than ever too!!
A crucial road trip next weekend. Should we all enjoy this perfect homestand before worrying about Louisiana and Mississippi? Yes...let's do!!
Ya'all don't forget about our live chat with Jerome on Monday at 12:30. There was such a great response last time. Lots of good news to talk about on Monday!