Back on home ice inside the friendly confines of the Columbus Civic Center for the first time in three weeks, the Columbus Cottonmouths couldn’t take advantage and fell in overtime to the Macon Mayhem 2-1.
It was Columbus’ second straight loss.
Columbus and Macon are jockeying for the eighth and final playoff spot in the SPHL standings. Columbus now trails Macon by five points.
Macon’s Ryan Michel struck first at 7:59 of the first period, finding the back of the net for the seventh time this. Five of the eight games played between Columbus and Macon have been decided by one goal.
The effort was there, just couldn’t get the breaks to go our way.
Jerome Bechard, Cottonmouths coach
Aided by heavy traffic in front of the net, Vladyslav Gavrik, who was just recently signed to a full-time contract, slid one past Macon goalie Garrett Bartus for the lone Columbus goal of the night at 11:32 of the first period.
“We hit three posts in that opening period which easily could have made it 2-1 or 3-1,” Columbus coach Jerome Bechard said. “The effort was there, just couldn’t get the breaks to go our way.”
Bartus, the reigning SPHL Player of the week, picked up the win in net for the Mayhem with 39 saves on 40 shots. He is now 6-1 this season in starts against the Cottonmouths this season.
“Both goaltenders were exceptional tonight, again just heartbreaker for us,” Bechard said. “If we continue to play like this against every team, we’re going to get where we need to be. (It) doesn’t matter how we get the points we just need to continue racking them in.”
Snakes netminder Brandon Jaeger blocked 31 of 33 shots as he suffered his second straight loss.
With 20 seconds remaining in the three-on-three additional period, Macon’s Shawn Skelly snuck behind the defense putting the game-winning one-timer past Jaeger, giving the Mayhem their fourth straight win over Columbus.
Columbus is now 0-6 in games decided in overtime.
“That’s 3-on-3 hockey, you easily get some 3 on 2 breakaways and Skelly is good at hiding behind the defense,” Bechard said. “We need to have a quick memory loss and not let this loss trickle into our game (Sunday) in Lafayette.”
The Snakes face off against Louisiana in the Cajun Dome at 4 p.m. Sunday. This will be the second meeting against the Ice Gators in eight days. Columbus is 0-3-1 versus Louisiana this year.
After another road game next Friday in Knoxville, the Snakes return home on March 13 when they host the Pensacola Ice Flyers for the third and final time this season. The Snakes are 3-2 against Pensacola this season, the only club in which they have a winning record.
Saturday at Columbus Civic Center
Macon 1 0 0 1--2
Columbus 1 0 0 0--1
First period—1, Macon, Michel (Brewer, Gentzler) 7:59; 2, Columbus, Gavrik (Bathgate, Freeman) 11:32; Penalties—Sanders, Macon (Tripping) 3:49; Lind, Columbus (High Sticking) 17:53.
Second period—Penalties—Howe, Macon (Instigator) 4:31; Howe, Macon (Fighting-Major) 4:31; Graves, Columbus (Boarding-Game Misconduct) 4:31; Graves, Columbus (Fighting-Major) 4:31; Megginson, Macon (Hooking) 9:20; Pierog, Macon (Slashing) 13:19; Rial, Columbus (Hooking) 17:27. Third period—Penalties—Gentzler, Macon (Hooking) 5:30; Rial, Columbus (Hooking) 10:02.
Overtime—3, Macon, Skelly (Rivera) 4:40.
Shots on goal: Macon 8-6-17-2; Columbus 18-11-5-6
Power plays: Macon 0 of 3; Columbus 0 of 5.
Goaltenders: Macon, Bartus (win) 64:40 17 11 5 6; Columbus, Jaeger (loss) 64:40 7 6 17 1.
Referee: Dre Barone. Linesman: Fusani, Delaney