Well, Snakes fans, the weekend didn't get off to a winning start for the guys, but it was great to see how they fought back...multiple times!!
A quick 2-0 hole on the road can be pretty discouraging. Especially the first Fayetteville goal...UGH. The Snakes were in the middle of a line change and, all of a sudden, here is the rare 2-on-NONE. Now, you know a 2-on-1 is bad and a 3-on-1 is really bad. But, all of a sudden it's two Antz vs Ian Vigier. It didn't end well...
The second goal was only slightly less ugly as it looked to literally go through Ian. My view on the web isn't that clear but I was stunned when the light came on. Must have gone five-hole.
The first Snakes goal was the most significant of the night. As Jerome likes to say, the guys were on their heels. Down by 2 only 7 minutes into the game, time to right the ship. Mark Thorburn's goal was exactly what the doctor ordered. A Fayetteville player tried to make a pass deep in his own zone. Mark intercepted and buried it in one swift move. Now the lead is only 2-1 and the Snakes have momentum.
Time for act 1 of the Sam Bowles show. Sammy's shortie was a big goal because (a) it tied the game (b) a shortie is always energizing (c) it happened only 20 seconds into the 3rd period. Huge momentum swing for the Snakes. Tie game 2-2, but advantage at this point has to go to the Snakes.
The roller coaster continues as Fayetteville goes ahead...again and the Snakes tie it... again. This time, Sam's long shot from just inside the blue line on the PP ties it 3-3. There's still a little more than 10 minutes to play. Plenty of time.
There's definitely no quit in this team, so I'm feeling pretty good about now. But then Fayetteville takes the lead for good 4 minutes later on the PP. Still plenty of time left, but the Snakes couldn't get the equalizer. Josh McQuade, the Snake killer with a hat trick, added the empty netter to seal the deal.
Good news: Levi Lind and Jordan Braid both returned, as did Biff McNally, for yet another tour. :) Alex MacLeod and Tommy Fitzpatrick are spending time in the ECHL, for who knows how long. Ill-timed call-ups, if you ask me, but...nobody did! haha
Two burning questions right now that desperately need answers:
Will Orrin Hergott return or retire? Is something wrong with Ian Vigier?
I saw Orrin last Saturday night at the hall of fame banquet and he looked really good. I haven't been able to say that in a while. He was headed to Boston 2 days later to be examined by the concussion guru, Dr. Robert Cantu. Orrin was so conflicted about this evaluation. He told me that one minute, he thought that the doc was going to say "everything looks fine" and the very next minute, he thought he'd be told "you're done".
I can't stress enough how tough it is for an athlete to retire no matter what the reason. I can remember like it was yesterday Ryan Aikia, with tears in his eyes, telling me how happy he was that he could hang them up before a coach or doctor told him he had to.
For Orrin, the stakes are higher. The stakes have a name: Nixon Michael Hergott...16 months old. My guess is that the doctor is going to recommend that Orrin retire, and that's what he'll do. The team will miss him. You and I will miss him. But one look at Nixy and the decision becomes a tad easier. :(
I'm concerned about Ian and I asked Jerome about him this week. He insists that there's nothing wrong with Ian physically, but agreed with my assessment that Ian seems, at times, 'off'. Now that's not a medical term, but he's not the Ian that led this team to a championship last year.
Before all the Ian fans rise up, remember I'm one of them. I think Ian is a great goalie and an even better person and leader. One variable is the D. The D is just not as strong or consistent as it was a year ago. Chris Bailer, Kyle Johnson and Tommy have experienced the growing pains that all rookies do. Kevin Kessler has suffered with the absence of Andrew Krelove. Bret Tyler and Tom Maldonado are the cornerstones of the D. When one of them is out, or limited by injury, the whole D suffers and so does the goaltending.
Is it now the Andrew Loewen era and the Ian Vigier regime is over? I don't think so. I think Ian is every bit as talented as he was last season. Right now, though, it's definitely Andrew's time. He's seeing the puck beautifully and is playing a smart and steady game. Try to imagine what will happen when both Ian and Andrew get into a groove...:)
Final thoughts about last night's game. The AmericaOne broadcast was the most ridiculous, unprofessional gong show I've ever had the misfortune to see. The guys that do the FireAntz games are volunteers. They are clearly Antz fans first and donating their time to this venture. Their broadcasts are always tough to watch because they spend more time reading emails and talking about their jobs and families than the game we're all trying to watch. But last night was a new low.
The Snakes sent young Tyler McCrea to Fayetteville, apparently via private plane, along with others in the Snakes family and front office. Tyler is an aspiring broadcaster, a CSU student who normally does a wonderful job. He's so knowledgeable and professional. Last night, he joined in the circus and played down to the level of his on-air colleagues. So disappointing.
If I'd paid to see that broadcast, I'd be hollering for a refund. Come on, guys...remember why we've all tuned in. To hear your take on the GAME, not constant giggling like middle schoolers over a ride on a private plane and which Applebees Tyler ate at before the game. UGH!!!!
Two huge games at the Snake Pit this weekend in the extremely crowded SPHL race. Teams ahead of the Snakes keep winning, so they definitely need to win too! Not to say that any game is easy, but with just 19 games left, you need to win home games vs teams below you in the standings. It's not just making the playoffs. Time to get a head of steam heading into the final weeks of the season.
Getting John Sullivan back will be huge, but Jerome doesn't think that will be until the waning weeks of the season. Then, how long will it take for John to get in the groove he was in before he got hurt? Bless his heart...John was playing so well and that line was on fire. Well, injuries are a part of the game that every team has to deal with, but enough, already!!
Looking forward to a big weekend of hockey at the Pit!