The Snakes ended the first half of the 2012-2013 season in style Saturday night in Knoxville, Snakes fans.
They came into the game with a roster riddled with injuries and things somehow got worse. Knoxville was having its Legends Weekend, for which the Ice Bears drew 4271, which is an awesome crowd. Ya'all know how pumped up everyone at the Snake Pit gets when the Legends return. We all know how much a crowd of that size gets behind the home team, too.
The Snakes did exactly what they needed to do with a large, enthusiastic crowd in a hostile barn. They took the early lead. The line of Jordan Braid-John Sullivan-Matt Gingera continues to set the standard for the offense. Jordan did the honors at the 11:42 mark. 1-0 Snakes after 1.
Things started getting chippy in the second. John gave the Snakes a 2-0 lead at the 9:08 mark of the second. As usual, John was in perfect position, out in front of the net and tapped it in for a two-goal lead. A little over 2 minutes later, Knoxville's Dan Bremner laid a pretty good hit on John and Matt took exception, so Bremner and Matt dropped the gloves.
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It was the first in a fight-filled second period. On the very next rush, Levi Lind and Brett Valliquette fought and later Chris Bailer and Brad Pawlowski did the same. Then things got ugly...
Knoxville's Jeremy Klaver decided he was going to fight Alex MacLeod. No way Alex was going to fight as he has a nice gash in his cheek, 4 stitches and a big goose egg. Alex never dropped his gloves, so Klaver was slapped with a 5-minute major. Knoxville coach Mike Craigen went ballistic, only verbally at first. I assume Craigen was upset because only his player received the penalty, a 5-minute PP for the Snakes.
After Craigen screamed at the referee for a few minutes, he heaved a water bottle on the ice. Before I tell you the comical moment in all of this, let me say chunking the water bottle could have triggered a major incident. The fans started throwing stuff on to the ice, including chuck-a-pucks...with their names on them!!! Too funny.
Here's the really funny part: The Ice Bears stayed pretty calm on the bench as Craigen's tirade continued. But there was a player next to him that made me laugh out loud. As Craigen heaved the first water bottle, the player leaned down and got another, quietly setting it down in front of Craigen. Then he lined up another. Reserve ammunition...haha.
There was a long delay which featured some discussion of penalties and rules. Nobody knows exactly what it was all about, but the coaches whipped out their copies of the rule book. There were only a few seconds left in the period, but the delay was endless. After the delay, Levi scored with only 1 second left to give the Snakes a 3-0 lead. Great hustle and presence of mind by Levi. For some reason I thought it was Sam Bowles who scored the goal. Sorry, Levi!
The Ice Bears managed to get one goal by Andrew Loewen but that was it. Of course, Andrew had a great night in net, but it's his D I'd like to give a shout out to. The defensive corps, always a strength of the team, took a big hit this weekend with the loss of two key members. Bret Tyler has now missed 5 games with a nagging, painful injury. Tom Maldonado played sparingly both nights, also.
The remaining d-men really stepped up against Knoxville. Kevin Kessler, Chris Bailer, Kyle Johnson, Tommy Fitzpatrick and Derek Pallardy did a fine job clearing out traffic in front of Andrew and putting bodies on people when they needed to. Excellent work under adverse conditions, guys. With this kind of performance and the season halfway over, Chris, Kyle and Tommy are officially no longer rookies. :) They certainly grew up tonight.
The W was huge and the 2 points great, but I'm very concerned about John. After the hit he took from Bremner, he didn't return. Could have been a precaution, but could also be a significant injury. I prefer the "holding him out as a precaution" explanation. Will do my best to get an update on his condition.
Great character win and terrific rebound from a disappointing loss in Augusta. Enjoy the weekend, guys. Cheer for the Falcons tomorrow...or I will find out and there will be consequences. :)