Once again, Snakes fans, I waited for the morning light to see if it shone less harshly on last night's loss to Louisiana. Nope...sure didn't.
To be honest, this was a must-win game. Admittedly the IceGators are a much-improved team, but it's a team that the Snakes owned until two weeks ago. Now the last-place Gators have defeated a team that plans to go deep into the playoffs by a combined score of 10-4. I just don't get it.
I can find little positive to say about last night's game. i didn't see hitting. I didn't see scoring...until way too late. I didn't see passes completed. I saw nearly an entire game of what Jerome calls "running around."
Worst of all, I didn't see fire, drive or even much effort. Ya'all know my philosophy by now. I don't expect a 56-0 record. What I do expect is pride, professionalism and effort. With a very few exceptions, I didn't see that.
This time there are no excuses. The team traveled to LA the day before, arrived in the early evening and got a good night's sleep. Their game-day routine should have closely mirrored what they do at home.
Ironically, I had predicted a 5-1 score...the other way. With so much at stake, I believed the Snakes would come out firing on all cylinders. They definitely didn't.
The game started sluggishly for both teams as neither registered an official shot on goal for 9:23 when the Gators got their first shot...except the off-ice folks didn't count it. A shot into Ian's glove is an official shot, right?
The Snakes managed a paltry 5 shots on goal in the first period, while the Gators managed only 8. The difference? Two of theirs found the back of the net! Yikes.
The Snakes had the first three PP opportunities of the night and couldn't convert. A sign of things to come. They had a lengthy five-on-three and nothing to show for it.
With everything that went wrong, the Snakes were still in the game until LA scored its last goal. That was way too big a mountain to climb...a three-goal deficit...but the Snakes hung in there. Daryl scored to cut it to 3-1 and hope was still alive.
Ian was pulled for the extra attacker shortly after Daryl's goal. Don't look at Pointstreak because it's pretty messed up. Daryl scored...then their first empty netter...then either Sam or Jesse scored...then the final empty netter. All of that happened in the last two minutes of play.
The announcer originally said Sammy scored, then said Jesse, then Sam got it on Pointstreak. More on the announcer in a minute.
Give credit to Will for trying to spark the team. He dropped the gloves with Rechlicz midway through the third. Pete got the team a seven-minute PP, though there was only 3:40 left in the game, when he let Sicard pummel him but kept his own gloves on. As it turned out, Pete's actions led to the Daryl goal and Sam/Jesse goal.
I plan to send an email to Jim and Doug at the league office about this announcer. No, I won't complain that, for the second straight night, he couldn't say Tom or Matt's last name right. Ugh.
This guy screamed, literally, about the referees all night. He did just about everything but accuse the guy of having the last name of Amos or Bechard. It was horrendous. He never used the word 'cheating' but his meaning was clear. The IceGators deserved none of the penalties they got and the million the Snakes deserved weren't called. It was awful.
I realize that the announcers are provided for and paid for by each team. I've heard the pros in this league...Mike Vee, Mark Atnip and Leif Skodnick, who called Surge games last year...bark about this call and that call. I occasionally holler myself. :) But the sustained, vicious attack on the ref in this game was unwarranted.
Well, it's going to be another beautiful, spring-like day in Columbus, GA. I'll get over being "ill", as we say in the south, and bring a positive attitude to the Snake Pit tonight. The question is: what will the guys bring?
They've told me all season long that don't aspire to simply make the playoffs, but to go deep into them. A first-round ouster is not in their plans. Hmmmmmm.
Well, boys...show your fans and your trusty beat writer that you mean it. Come out tonight and hit, beat...actually dominate.. the FireAntz. Launch a 9-game winning streak. Climb that SPHL ladder. What do you say?