Great save, Ian and the D! The Snakes salvaged a weekend split in Huntsville with a 2-1 win in a great hockey game, even on the web.
Before we talk about tonight's game, wait 'til ya'all hear a couple things I learned when taking a look at the Snakes-Huntsville series this year:
The teams have played 7 times so far, 4 in Huntsville and 3 in Columbus. Every single game has been decided by one or two goals!!! Tonight was the Snakes' first win of the season IN Huntsville. Their previous losses were 3-2, 2-0 (both really early in the season) and 2-0 last night. In Columbus, the 3-2 and 4-2 in mid-December.
What do stats tell you? Depends on what you want them to tell you...haha. In this case, the Snakes could be 0-7 or 7-0 against the Havoc.
Tonight had to be especially hard because Huntsville was riding a four-game winning streak and a hot goalie. Sibbald had two shutouts in his last three games. Also, they had the largest crowd of the season at the Von Braun Center, a really nice crowd of 6022.
The Snakes once again put a revamped lineup on the ice. Still missing you, Sammy and Daryl...ugh. Tom moved up to forward and Will back on D. My pal Mike Vee said last night he thought Jerome was trying to take advantage of Tom's speed in pairing him with Orrin. So, Tom, Orrin and Pete started the game on offense, with Will and Dave on the blue line. Mike also said Jeff is about to go to Bloomington (Central League) but I don't know for how long. I thought Tom did fine and imagine he'll be a lot more comfortable after a week of practice up front. Got the impression this was a spur of the moment decision by Jerome, but will check with him and let ya'all know.
From the drop of the puck, this was a different game than last night. Ya'all know of my love-hate relationship with the webcasts. I LOVE them 'cause they're better than nothing, but I get no feel for the guys or the intensity level. From my perch at home, I can clearly see their faces and read their expressions (and lips, unfortunately...:)
As I was telling Tom and Dave when I interviewed them recently, I can tell three shifts into the game how it's going to go. If each line comes out trying to outhit the one before it, it'll be a good night.
This game started out well and kept that intensity and physical play throughout. A tense moment when Brent Clarke missed a WIDE, and I do mean wide, open net in the first period. Yikes. Good, sustained pressure on an early power play was also encouraging. When they play like that, I know the puck will eventually find the net a couple of times. Tonight it did.
Brett scored on the power play to give the Snakes their first goal of the two-game series. A 1-0 lead was pretty tenuous but Ian and the D were awesome tonight. The D allowed Ian to clearly see all the shots he faced. They kept the lanes open and didn't allow an even strength goal all night.
The Havoc has scored 113 goals this season to 110 for the Snakes, in 36 games for the Snakes to 35 for Huntsville. Lots of nights, the ride Sibbald and McWhinney in low-scoring contests, and the Snakes do the same with Ian and Andrew.
Each team scored once on the power play in an erratic game for referee Brent Coulombe. Coulombe went through long periods without calling anything, then would call a rash of penalties in a short period of time. For example, in the first period, no calls for nearly 7 minutes, then three in the last 13, two on Huntsville and one on the Snakes. In the second period, the Snakes were whistled for four to only two for Huntsville. The final period saw only one minor called on each team.
Each team scored once on the PP, but the Havoc had more chances. Six for Huntsville and four for the Snakes.
What a tense third period. A tiny one-goal lead against a team with first place at stake. It was a very physical game and the Snakes were still hitting until the final horn sounded. But what a looooong period! Have you noticed how slowly the clock moves when you're behind? haha
What a night for Jordan!! That said, he could've had about 6 goals and made it easier on all of us. He had some really good plays. Great job, Dave, working the PK with no stick. Nice shoving match between Orrin and Sibbald (no calls, by the way).
Huntsville played its third in three and the Snakes second of five straight on the road. Iron men awards go to MacDonald and Ortiz who Vee said skated every other shift. I swear they were out there the whole third period!! MacDonald had both of the Huntsville goals on Friday.
Terrific job by Ian in smothering what few rebounds he allowed at all. Lots of glove saves and kick saves by Ian. Sibbald is still the league's top goalie (2.13) but Ian is creeping up there (2.52). Ian is third with Dan Earles in between (2.42.)
Two wins would have been great, but a split is just fine. I think it gives the guys a lot of confidence going into next weekend's brutal Knoxville-Augusta-Fayetteville swing. Whoever made this schedule is as geographically challenged as I am!