Tonight the Snakes visit Mississippi and Louisiana for the first time. This trip will be interesting for several reasons. It's the first look at both new SPHL teams.
Secondly, the situation in Louisiana is unusual to say the least.
The IceGators play in a college facility. From what I hear the barn doesn't have a lot of amenities, but Jerome told me he doesn't think that will bother the guys. He said it's no Columbus Civic Center, but he's played in worse places!
Louisiana is also on its third head coach since the season started. Ron Handy was quickly replaced by general manager Brent Sapergia. Then the situation went from unusual to bizarre. Sapergia pitched a fit in the game against Pensacola last Friday, heaving sticks, equipment and anything he could find on to the ice. He received a laundry list of penalties, including a gamer.
Presto...a new coach with a familiar face appears on the bench after intermission. John Gibson, former Huntsville Havoc coach, is now on board in Louisiana.
Talk is already swirling that Gibson is recruiting some of his former Havoc players to join him in Louisiana. Is Luke Phillips interested? How about Mike Degurse? Anybody else sitting by the phone? James Patterson? Dan Buccella? Is an extreme makeover on the horizon for the IceGators?
Finally, the Snakes will see familiar faces on both teams. Mike Omicioli was a Cottonmouths in 2001-2002 in their SPHL days. More recently, fiery redhead Daryl Moor was a Snake as was goalie Ryan Senft.
Mike was before my time but I have fond memories of both Daryl and Ryan. Daryl was one of my go-to guys as a beat writer. Everybody has them. When a lead doesn't jump out at you or especially after a tough loss, these guys are always good for a colorful, articulate quote or even story idea. Daryl was really good at that. More times than I can count, he presented me with an angle when I had none. Thanks, Daryl!
Ryan was one of my collaborators on my goalie series. I probably spent about six hours with Ryan and Chad Rycroft. These two guys were so patient in explaining the technical side of a difficult job. They received several phone calls when I had trouble putting their descriptions into exactly the right words. Never did they express any impatience and were very supportive both in the interviews and the photo session. I thanked them then and will do so again. Thanks, guys!
I'll be watching tonight via the web, which is good news and bad news, depending on the camera guy, lighting and announcer. If it's really dark, I desperately need the announcer to identify both the Snakes and the home team. Sometimes I can't even recognize the Cottonmouths!! It's a difficult job that I certainly could not do myself. I really appreciate the guys who give me as much info as possible, therefore letting me do a better job!