Check that...make that a VERY long night for the Snakes in Pensacola tonight. A night when pretty much everything that could go wrong did...
Once again, and this is getting really, really old, the Snakes were shorthanded. No Bret Tyler. No Marcel Alvarez. Of course, John Sullivan is still out as is Orrin Hergott.
The injury to Bret and, I assume, Marcel's inability to travel (remember, he does have a rather demanding day job!) are significant in that it put the Snakes down two d-men. This is bad enough at first glance, but when you move Derek Pallardy to the blue line, you mess with a line that's been working really well. Derek has been skating with Matt Gingera and Jordan Braid.
Offensively, you can't be happy when the Snakes are shut out by the Ice Flyers number 2 goalie, who's only made 8 starts for them. The Snakes managed only 13 SOG through 2 periods. They peppered Festa with 17 in the final period but couldn't get one past him. So frustrating.
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Pensacola had 6 opportunities on the PP to only 2 for the Snakes. Killing penalties doesn't exactly help when you're trying to find your offense.
Ian Vigier got the start in net and it was a very tough start for Ian. The Ice Flyers scored, literally, on their first 2 SOG of the game, only 22 seconds apart. It was brutal. Stunning. Not sure what word to use. I give Ian all the credit in the world, though. He had to have been rattled but he regrouped. He held Pensacola scoreless until just over 5 minutes remained in the second. The Tyler Soehner goal was a Snake killer because it stretched the lead from 2 to 3. I know...a two-goal lead when you're struggling is formidable. But a 3-goal lead looks like a mountain to climb rather than just a steep hill...UGH.
Ken Porter made the trip and suited up for the Snakes. If you're keeping score, Ken was the original soldier Snake, followed by Biff McNally and now Marcel. My guess is that we'll see Marcel in uniform (uh...in a Snakes sweater, I mean) tomorrow night. Not sure about Bret, Ken, Biff, Orrin...John is on the 30-day, so we won't see him. Time to install the revolving door on the locker room.
The W was huge for Pensacola as the Flyers leapfrogged Fayetteville into second place. Louisiana is starting to make its move, so the Snakes and all who consider themselves top tier teams need to kick it in gear. Here are the standings at this moment:
- Louisiana 58
- Pensacola 54
- Fayetteville 53
- Columbus 47
- Knoxville 47
- Surge 43
- RiverKings 40
- Huntsville 36
- Augusta 31
As you can see, there's a six-point gap between the Snakes/Knoxville and Fayetteville. But there's only a four-point gap between the Snakes/Knox and the Surge. At this time of year, everything depends upon who gets a winning streak of a significant length going. I'm talking 4 or 5 games. The Snakes just aren't doing that right now. The max they'll win in a row is 2, then drop 2, then win 1, maybe lose 2. That's maintaining the status quo, not moving up the ladder. They did put together a five-game streak in mid-January. Maybe another one begins tomorrow...
This is shaping up to be the tightest finish in the 9-year history of the SPHL. Oh, there's always jockeying for a final playoff position. One team has to wait 'til the last Sunday game of the regular season to find out who they're playing or, in some cases, if they even make the playoffs. But this year, the coveted top spot, with its prize of home ice advantage throughout the playoffs, will probably go down to the wire.
A final thought on tonight's game: is there anybody out there who could give the Pensacola announcer a tutorial on how to pronounce the Snakes' names?? As someone who, for the last 35 years has had a last name continually butchered, I take great offense that, for better or worse, the guys aren't called what their mamas named them.
The name is L-I-N-D. One syllable. Short i. Rhymes with wind (as in Gone with the Wind). How it gets to be LEANED I'll never know. How can you pronounce Maldonado and not Lind??? Also, it's PAL--lar---dee (that's pal...like buddy) and the accent is on the first syllable. Bail (like a bale of hay) and er at the end...not Beller (as in Greg) or bal (rhymes with pal) er.
Not to rag on the broadcast (again) but what was up with the audio? It took until 3 minutes remaining in the game to fix it??? Geeeeez. :(
Ya'all know I'm an eternal optimist and faithful readers know what I'm going to say next: Tomorrow is another day!!