Lots of fun at the Snake Pit with familiar faces returning to action in the Legends game. It's so neat to see the guys come back with their families. The entire Aikia family was in attendance--Elsa and Ryan and their two little girls, Macy and Marley. Kerri and Dougie Mann were there. I'm sure Brodie and Blayd were also, but I didn't get to see them.
The Chad Rycroft family was in attendance, beautiful Brooke, my pal Tanner and Chad-clone Miller. Miss Flit and I couldn't believe how big Miller has gotten!! Craig and Michelle Stahl were there with Jagger and Nevaeh, but I didn't get to speak to them. Tommy McMonagle and I shared a quick hello as my deadline loomed. Got to say hi briefly to Derek Marchand and Jimmy Kerestes. Hope to see a lot more of the guys tomorrow night.
I have to say, Chad looked pretty good in net, his first appearance between the pipes in over 2 years. Chad told me he probably hadn't been on skates 10 times since he took off the Snakes sweater for the last time after the 2010 season. He hasn't played competitively since he left here either!
Two soldier Snakes suited up for Ft. Benning. Captain Ken Porter wore the C for the army and Captain Biff McNally, a Cottonmouth 5 days ago, was easy to spot in his blue Snakes helmet. As you would expect, Ken and Biff got very enthusiastic receptions from the crowd when they were introduced. :)
The Legends took a 6-3 victory, the highlights of which were a hat trick for tough guy Dan Leslie (3 goals in 1 game...who knew? haha) and Ken and Biff each scoring one for Ft. Benning.
For the second straight season, Ft. Benning had a female player. This year it was Kathleen Hedges, who played in net.
Some great quotes from intermission interviews conducted by PA announcer Dana Barker. My favorite: when asked by Dana what it was like to reunite with his teammates from the 1998 Levins Cup champion team, assistant coach Brad Prefontaine said it was good, but "everyone's a little heavier, a little grayer, a little slower" haha.
Jerome sent a special shout out to both the legends and soldiers. The legends "formed the foundation of Columbus Cottonmouths hockey." To the soldiers, Jerome gave his thanks. "Thanks to Ft. Benning not only for playing us. Every day you guys go to work to protect us."
Now to the game that counted. Jerome has a way of saying "it's all good"...even when it's not. Tonight he didn't say it.
A pretty ragged performance by the guys tonight. Way too many defensive breakdowns. Turnovers at key times and places. Passes going every which way. Little sustained offense and very few quality shots. Actually, few shots, period. As captain Sam Bowles, the birthday boy, said, they need to play a full 60 minutes. That pretty much sums it up.
I'm very concerned that the injury bug has hit again...twice. Hoping Chris Bailer will be back tomorrow night (uh...just checked the time..make that, TONIGHT) but not at all sure about Levi Lind. Chris has a fat lip and a couple spaces where teeth should be. Don't know how many teeth he lost, but I knew right away after the fight because he reached up to his mouth as if in search of a tooth or two.
Levi was hurt early in the game, but stayed on the bench and took his regular shifts until late in the second. Jerome said both guys are day-to-day. I told him I had Biff's number if he needed him tomorrow night...haha.
I've talked to someone who's seen the video of the FireAntz' first goal and this assessment agreed with Ian Vigier's, that the goal was kicked in. Speaking of Ian, I stopped counting the number of breakaways he had to handle. Turnovers at the blue line really hurt.
Speaking of breakaways, Matt Gingera had yet another pretty goal for the Snakes. He stole the puck and took off on a breakaway of his own. It was a huge goal as it cut the lead to just one. But I have to say, the Snakes just didn't have it tonight. I didn't have a good feeling about this game from the beginning.
Let me qualify that...I absolutely loved the Snakes' military jerseys. Loved the design. Loved the numbers that could be easily read. Loved, loved, loved Pride, Honor, Courage, Loyalty ABOVE the player's names. So symbolic. Kind of like "the name on the front of your sweater is more important than the one on the back". In this case, Pride, etc are more important than you.
Not a big fan of the Legends jerseys. I said before I saw them that it would be hard to top last year's which I loved. The ones with the faces around the bottom were awesome.
Will leave ya'all with the humorous end of my interview the Sammy. He and Orrin, following in the footsteps of Craig and Will, are very gracious in answering the losing captain questions...bless their hearts. My last question was: considering all the scrums that broke out tonight, tomorrow night's game should be pretty interesting.
Sam said "yeah"...then grinned.