Lots of reasons to smile tonight at the Snake Pit. Before we get to the obvious ones, here is an original poem composed by a young Snakes fan named Jason, who read it during the Trash Talk segment near the end of the game.
After announcing that Ian Vigier is his favorite Cottonmouth, a sentiment shared by many, Jason told Whitney Mixon that he'd written a poem for the visiting Huntsville Havoc.
Roses are red...violets are blue
The Snakes are going to the finals...how about you?
The list of reasons to smile is a long one. After the Snakes smacked Huntsville around at their place, there were still questions remaining. Would the team that won its series with Augusta show up at the Snake Pit? How would desperation affect them?
The answer is...the Snakes were just way too talented for the young Havoc. In talking to their coach afterward, Glenn Detulleo told me that he has 13 rookies on his team. Unbelievably high number. In contrast, the Snakes have 4. Greg Beller, Andrew Krelove, John Sullivan and the newest Snake, Jim Durham. That's a far cry from 13.
Is that one of the reasons the Snakes are so good...experience? Thats part of the it, sure. They are so focused, so calm in the face of adversity. They are patient and methodical, very workmanlike in their approach to every game.
Now they are exactly where they wanted to be since October. They're headed to the finals. For the first time since 2005, the Cottonmouths have the chance to raise the President's Cup.
They'll be the favorites, no doubt. Sweeping through 2 series and being the top remaining seed will put the target on their backs. But I guarantee they'll not take either Knoxville or Pensacola lightly. It would make no sense to do that, as their opponent, no matter which team it is, has won just as many post-season games as the Snakes. They'll also deserve their berth in the finals.
But the other reason the Snakes won't do this is their maturity. They have the same intelligent approach to this series as they did a regular season game against Fayetteville: Go out there, play our game, keep it simple, do what we do.
I think the balanced scoring will serve them well, as it has all year. Most teams have one really good line and then the talent level declines from there. The Snakes have 3 solid lines, with all 3 capable of putting the puck in the net.
Friday night, the John Sullivan-Jordan Braid-Levi Lind line had 6 points. The Greg Beller-Derek Pallardy-Orrin Hergott line had 6 and the Sam Bowles-Pete MacDougall-Mitch Wall-Jim Durham line had 4.
As always, it was the little things, the extra effort that produced goals. The first goal was the result of lots of bodies in front. Greg got the goal but it looked like the puck was redirected...twice!
Levi got an assist on the second goal, but it doesn't happen without him. He made a big hit on a Havoc player along the boards and made him cough up the puck. It bounced right to John, who buried it.
I don't know how the Havoc could not know Orrin and what he's capable of, but it looked like his goal caught them absolutely flat-footed. Orrin got the puck way back in the Columbus zone and skated up the nearside boards. He was outside the circle when he let it go...right into the net.
It was good to see the PP get a couple of goals. To be fair, they haven't had a lot of chances. But the deeper you get into the playoffs, every goal will be important. After Sammy's PPG, Huntsville called timeout. Time to steady a young team.
But the Snakes were just too much for Huntsville in this series.
A special night for Jim as he scored his first goal as a pro. He already had a couple of assists on Wednesday. Congrats, JD!
I am going to try, and probably fail, to describe Greg 's dipsy doodle move. We've all seen it countless times this season, but it never ceases to amaze me. Greg has the puck, moving toward the net. He crosses into the opposing team's zone and encounters a d-man. He, somehow, goes around the defender and catches up with the puck on the other side of him. As I said, hard to describe but fun to watch!
Finally, I said at the beginning of the season that the Snakes have the best D in the league. I was right then and still am. Unbelievably they continue to get stronger and stronger.
Ian Vigier. SPHL Goaltender of the Year. Rock solid.
Here is the tentative schedule for the finals:
Game 1 Snake Pit Thursday night
Game 2 at Knoxville Friday night
Game 2 at Pensacola Saturday night
Game 3* Snake Pit Sunday
Such an exciting time for the guys!! Looking forward to Thursday!