Good morning, All---
I waited 'til this morning to write about last night's game, hoping it would look better in the light of day. No such luck.
There was so much at stake last night. Not only are the Snakes, Knoxville and Fayetteville in a free-for-all to claim two playoff spots. The Snakes should have been looking to make a statement this weekend that they (a) have learned to play on the road, (b) can win in Mississippi and (c) are a top tier team.
Sorry to say that none of these goals was reached. Instead, they suffered through one of the most disappointing losses of the season and concluded an 0-2 road trip.
This game was a disaster from the beginning. The first Mississippi goal came only 2:37 in. Ian didn't react at all. Not a good start, falling behind on the road to a good team.
After the second goal, a long shot from the blue line, Jerome called a timeout. So glad the broadcast doesn't have sound. It wasn't pretty. He basically let them have it. Many times Jerome doesn't use his timeout at all. It's nearly unheard of to use it this early. Down 2-0 to a top team called for desperate measures.
The strategy and timeout worked. Jesse slipped a wrister by goalie Kyle McNulty and it was a game again. A one-goal lead, to whomever, wherever is not a big deal.
The one-goal lead lasted all of 58 seconds. It resulted from a turnover in the Snakes zone. Not the last turnover either.
This will become a pattern. Every time the Snakes took a measure of control in this game, the Surge grabbed it right back. Still, things were manageable at 3-1 with over five minutes left in the first. We've all seen bigger comebacks, right?
We've seen bigger comebacks, but not on this night. For the last 4:56 of the period, the Snakes didn't register a single shot on goal. Not one. They trailed 16-8 in shots after one.
Matt cut the lead to one at the 4:33 mark of the second. That one-goal deficit lasted 1:07 before Jason Beeman completed the hat trick. That's right...a hat trick only 5:40 into the second. Beeman would end up with four goals. Congrats to him. That's a big accomplishment. The score is now 4-2.
In the "expect the unexpected" category: former Snake Joe DeBello and Levi dropped the gloves. Apparently DeBello didn't take kindly to Levi's cross-check and the two went at it. Not suggesting that Levi drop them more often, but he landed a few good ones.
The Snakes had to kill a couple of penalties early in the second and did so successfully. They were perfect in the PK on the evening. Their shots on goal suffered, though, as it's hard to mount an offense when you're a man short. With 5:27 left in the second, they'd managed only 4 SOG in the second period and trailed 36-17 after two periods and 46-29 for the game.
The teams traded goals at the end of the second. Matt scored his second of the night, a PPG with 1:49 left. So it's 5-3 entering the final period. You know what they say: a two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey. It seems pretty good, but a goal by the team that's behind changes everything!
So, moment of truth, boys. Down by two to the first-place team in their barn. All you have to do to change the complexion and momentum of the game is to put one in the net early. Then you have a whole period to tie it and win it.
A fairy tale ending? Sorry, not for this game. In an ironic twist, Brent Clarke...former Snake, former Huntsville Havoc, current Surge player...makes it 6-3 only 3:45 into the third. Takes the fight out of them. Takes the fight out of me. Game over.
The seventh goal was the result of another careless turnover in front of Ian. 7-3. Yikes.
Sam celebrated his return with an unassisted goal when it was too late. Showed that he was still hustling, though, and if I know Sam, he'd trade that goal for a W any day. Daryl also came back from a month on the shelf. He had an assist on Matt's first goal.
The good news...and there was a little...is that Jordan had three assists. Great job by Jordan!
The bad news is that the Snakes lost two on the road, one to the league's last-place team, which has now won four of its last five games, and one to its top team. The worse news is that the Snakes yielded 12 goals on this road trip. That's way too many and, of course, it can't all be laid at Andrew's and Ian's feet. When you give up that many, it's not only the D either. Everybody shares in the responsibility for a weekend like this.
But the weekend isn't over. The Snakes come home this afternoon to play Knoxville. Knoxville is also playing its third game in three nights. The Ice Bears lost a pair of one-goal games on Friday and Saturday. They're lurking only two points behind the Snakes.
If the season ended this very minute, the Snakes would squeak into the playoffs by a whopping two points. Tied right behind them are Knoxville and Fayetteville. But the season still has five weeks left! The Snakes have 13 games to play. They've talked all season about not only making the playoffs, but going deep into them, unlike the past five seasons where they made an early exit.
This road trip was a huge disappointment, but they still have time to make that push. But it needs to start this afternoon. This is a must-win game. The opponent is one you match up well against, one you've had success against. You're at home and both teams have bus legs.
This is it, guys. Show us you mean business.