There were three goals scored in the first 4:30 of the final period.
Two of them by the Cottonmouths for a 3-2 victory over Pensacola on Friday night.
Orrin Hergott scored at the 1:21 mark to give Columbus a 2-1 lead.
Dan Buccella scored at 3:13 to tie the game.
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Sam Bowles scored at 4:30 to give the Cottonmouths the final margin.
Game 2 will be in Pensacola Saturday night at 8 p.m.
If Game 3 is necessary, it will be played at the Columbus Civic Center at 4 p.m. Sunday.
Matthew Robertson scored 1:20 into the second period to bring Pensacola into a 1-1 tie with Columbus in Game 1 of the SPHL finals.
The teams headed into the third period with the scored tied at 1-1.
It took Orrin Hergott only 3:18 into Thursday night's game to give the Columbus Cottonmouths a 1-0 lead at the Columbus Civic Center.
Greg Beller and Derek Pallardy had the assists on the goal, which was the only one of the first period.
Pensacola outshot Columbus 9-4.
Both teams were 0-for-1 on power plays.
The Columbus Cottonmouths open the league championship series tonight against the Pensacola Ice Flyers at 7:30 at the Columbus Civic Center. Follow this space for score updates at the end of every period.
Get more frequent updates by following L-E Sports on Twitter.
The series marks the Snakes' return to the finals after a seven-year absence. Columbus defeated Macon on April 1, 2005, to raise the SPHL's inaugural President's Cup.
Going to the game? Columbus Civic Center is located at 400 Fourth St., at the end of Veterans Parkway. Easy access is also available from U.S. 280 in Phenix City.
Tickets range in price from $13 to $29.
The series moves to Pensacola for Game 2 on Saturday at 8:05. If necessary, Game 3 will be at the Civic Center on Sunday at 4 p.m.