What a wild and crazy night at the Snake Pit!! Hate it if ya'all missed the fun. First, explanation/excuses:
You may have noticed my story this morning had no quotes. It had awesome pics by photog Robin Trimarchi, but no player reaction. I was so caught up in the fun and preparing who I would talk to and what I would ask that I didn't check my watch. What a deflating feeling to see that, on a night when so much good happened, I'd have no quotes.
With a 10:45 deadline and the game ending at 10:12, these fingers were flying just to get the story and boxscore in. Not as bad as the previous night, bad by all accounts, when I somehow deleted the whole story 10 minutes before deadline. UGH.
After I finished, I went down to see if any of the players I wanted to see were still there. One advantage is that they're still happy, but have showered and are smelling better...lol. Right away I spot Neillson Arcibal. So I grabbed him and then, on cue, out comes Levi Lind. No Andy Willigar and no Travis Bosch. I'm convinced Travis takes the quickest showers in the world as this is the second time I wanted to talk to him and he was already gone. haha
You're probably wondering where the quotes are. Well, they're at the rink. Somehow, I left my notebook there. Obviously, I used it while I interviewed Neilsson and Levi. Then I spoke briefly to Mike Switzer and Dan Bremner, whom I'm talking to on Monday for next weekend's story. All I can figure is that I set the notebook down to talk to those guys and left it there.
Thanks to my pal Pedro Slayton who rescued it and is holding on to my notebook until I get there on Monday. Thanks, Pedro!
A couple of thoughts, without the notebook present...
Andy's goal that got things started is a perfect example of how good things happen when you shoot the puck...DUH. The old adage that 100% of the pucks you don't shoot don't go in is true. If you shoot it, three things can happen. It finds the net...it's deflected and finds the net...it doesn't go in. Decent odds.
Andy's goal hit Kyle Rank's blocker pretty hard. The puck flew up in the air and dropped into the net. Some might call it an ugly goal, but it looked pretty good to me and to Snakes fans who were eager to see their guys score first!
Levi's goal was really pretty. Will Aide, who had a great game, put an absolutely perfect pass right on the tape of Levi's stick. Levi heads toward Rank on a breakaway. At this point, I hold my breath. The first two components of a successful breakaway are complete. Get a good pass. Break free. Now all Levi has to do to energize the whole place, including his own bench, is score...which he did. Beautiful play.
Also on the good news front, special teams came through big time. Two PPGs and a perfect PK.
A couple of negatives. This equipment violation thing has the potential to affect the outcome of games. In Thursday night's game, the Snakes were without two key players due to the ref's rules interpretation, one involving the aforementioned equipment. Matt Gingera was accused, and convicted, of having his visor tilted inappropriately. Uh...this was after a scrum in which gloves, hands, elbows and other body parts were flailing around. Does there have to be a little common sense factored in here?
It was a pretty big loss for the Snakes to have their leading scorer gone for 10 minutes at the 12:21 mark of a shaky second period. In the same period, Neilsson was banished for the rest of the period for delaying play due to an injury. I talked to Jerome about this last night. The intent of the rule is to keep the guys from flopping, laying on the ice to grab a breather or creating an unofficial timeout. The trainer doesn't have to come on the ice to earn the call. This call, in my humble opinion, was both shaky and costly. So, no Neillson and no Matt for the second.
Last night, Tory Allan was whistled for the dreaded equipment violation. I should clarify that this can be given for either the visor or mouthguard. As it turned out, the Snakes offense had a lot of weapons, but Tory missing for 10 minutes on another night could've been significant.
Big question that I didn't get to ask last night is what happened to Chris Bailer? Peoria's Steve Morra was hit with an elbowing major. Will retaliated and got a major for jumping Morra. Next thing I see is Chris skating the length of the ice, appearing to say something to the linesman, and getting tossed. A gamer at the 17:54 mark of the first. Three seconds later, a rare fight for the Captain. Kyle Johnson dropped them with Jarrett Rush. Not many punches landed early, but Kyle took Rush down to end it, delighting the crowd.
Fighting is part of the game. It's a strategy like any other. There are times when a team wants to settle an old score. There are times when it wants to make a statement. It looked like Kyle was officially welcoming Rush and the Rivermen to the Pit. This is how we play, boys. This is how we stick up for each other. This is old-school Cottonmouths hockey. Well-timed fight for Kyle.
Great W for Travis, his first since the drama of the the shootout win on Nov. 22. Hopefully, the first of many more for the young goalie.
Despite playing shorthanded, the D played strong positional hockey. The protected Travis, moved the puck well and, well...did their job.
Balanced scoring and hitting are the keys to victory for most teams and certainly for the Snakes. They did both last night. All three lines contributed and 8 different players scored. Big night all the way around.
Now on to Knoxville, against whom the Snakes are 0 for 5 this season. The Ice Bears are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, while the Cottonmouths are 5-5. The funny thing is that the Snakes have played better on the road, with last night the exception. Can't wait to see how tonight goes!