What a long, miserable day this started out to be for the Snakes. A bus trip that should've had them rolling into Fayetteville around 4ish got them there at 6:30...for a 7:05 game! A major case of bus legs combined with their pre-game routine being wrecked saw the guys down 1-0 just 24 seconds into game two of their three-in-a-week with Fayetteville.
Talk about wishing for a do-over.
The FireAntz took a 2-0 lead later in the period. Thankfully, Andrew Loewen made a number of outstanding saves and kept his team in the game until they were back on track.
When my husband asked the score and I told him "only" 2-0, he gave me the look. The look that means "you're being positive about being DOWN 2-0 to Fayetteville?". That look. I told Larry that I always hope to be tied or not losing badly after the first period on a road trip. I've learned over the course of 10 years covering hockey that bus legs are a very real phenomenon and something the guys have to work through each and every night they hit the road.
The shorter trips aren't so bad, but the long haul to Fayetteville takes a while to recover. Getting down 2-0 after the day they had wasn't bad at all.
Sure enough, the Gingera-Bowles-Draper line picked up where it left off after last night's big success. Jordan Draper got things going for the Snakes at the 1:12 mark of the second period and things escalated from there. It was like a switch was flipped and the guys were ready to come out and take these badly needed two points.
The tying goal was a thing of beauty by Sam Bowles. Right place, right time. Bam. Tie game. At that point, I knew the Snakes would come back and win it. Not by three goals, necessarily, but I figured there would be a bit of poetic justice in winning 3-2 since that was the score of the bitterly disappointing loss on Tuesday night.
The rookie like took its turn in the third period. Tory Allan got the go-ahead goal and Preston Shupe the fourth one. Andy Willigar added the empty netter for good measure, giving the Snakes a nice, neat 10 goals vs the Antz in two nights.
This win was impressive for a couple of reasons. First, the horrid trip could have done the Snakes in...but it didn't. Getting down 2-0 could've put them in a hole too deep to recover...but it didn't. If Fayetteville scores a third goal, the outcome could've been different. Ya'all know what they say about a two-goal lead in hockey. Well, Jordan took care of that and cut the lead to just one.
This was a character win. A confidence builder. A take-no-prisoners victory that this team needed. There are many positives to take out of this game.
Everybody contributed. Ok...not sure about backup goalie Curtis Martinu, as there wasn't a whole lot he could do. But ya'all get the point...lol
The defensemen did their jobs. The scoring was balanced. Everybody was hitting and sticking up for each other. Dan Bremner had another great game, showing once again why all of a guy's contributions don't appear on the scoresheet. Alex Gallant and Will Aide prove once again why you need tough guys on your team. Alex manhandled McNeil early in the game, a sort-of-fight that ended with McNeil gesturing triumphantly to the home crowd. Huh?
Will has proven all season long that he's a guy who will always look out for his teammates. He has their backs...no question. Tom Maldonado delivered a clean, legal hip check to which Tommy Lange took exception and cross-checked Tom. Will pounced on Lange and let him know that was NOT acceptable behavior. Good job by Will in playing his role. Another chapter in the history between Lange and Tom.
The guys are headed back from Fayetteville, thanks to the quirky SPHL schedule, arriving home early tomorrow morning. Another game day routine challenged as well as the fatigue of three-in-three with the long trip in the middle. The Mississippi RiverKings come to town at 4.
At this point, the Snakes are in sole possession of 7th place. There's a little breathing room between them and the bottom of the standings, but not enough to let up. Every two points matter at this time of year. Do they have enough left in the tank to grab two points tomorrow afternoon? We'll know soon enough!