The Columbus Cottonmouths took three steps forward during their last homestand, posting wins over Fayetteville, Huntsville and Mississippi.
On Friday night in Knoxville, the Snakes took a step backward.
The Cottonmouths’ road woes continued with a 5-1 loss at the hands of the Ice Bears. Knoxville remains impressive at home, improving its record to 16-2-0. The Snakes are now 3-12-3 on the road.
The contest was the first of five straight road games for the Snakes. Tonight they’re in Fayetteville, the site of their 9-4 thumping on Feb. 2. Columbus plays in Huntsville, Louisiana and Pensacola before returning home on Feb. 26.
The Snakes spotted the Ice Bears a 5-0 lead. Tommy McMonagle helped avoid the Snakes’ second shutout of the season. Columbus lost 1-0 to Mississippi on Nov. 13. McMonagle scored at the 5:47 mark of the third period, with assists from Ryan McCarthy and Sam Bowles. It was McMonagle’s fourth goal of the season in 14 games with the Snakes.
Ian Vigier took the loss in net after posting three victories at home. He yielded five goals and made 32 saves.
David Segal led the Knoxville scoring with a pair of goals. Kevin Swider contributed a goal and an assist as did Travis Martell. Frank Furdero chipped in two assists.
The Snakes are stuck in sixth place in the SPHL standings, ahead of only Louisiana. The Cottonmouths have a 10-point lead on the last-place IceGators. The league’s playoff format sends six of the seven teams into postseason play.
The top tier of the standings is crowded. With their victory, the IceBears creep to within four points of first place, pending the results of the Mississippi-Louisiana later on Friday night. Mississippi and Huntsville entered the evening’s competition tied for the lead with 50 points.
Huntsville lost to Fayetteville, 6-5. A Mississippi win would move the Surge into first place and kick the Havoc out of the spot they’ve held outright or shared since opening night.
The Snakes-FireAntz contest in Fayetteville is tonight at 7:35.