First of all, apologies for disappearing the past few days, Snakes fans. You may remember that last year at this time, Jerome was inducted into the Chattahoochee Valley Sports Hall of Fame. Well, it's time for this year's ceremony and I VOLUNTEERED to do 2 stories again this year.
I stress VOLUNTEERED because I have nobody to blame but myself for my current state of near panic. I'm honored to tell Willie Bowman's story, along with that of Charles Ragsdale, first baseball coach and longtime educator at Columbus State University, formerly Columbus College. However, along with that honor comes a severe time crunch!! In addition, this little thing called Legends Weekend is coming up at the same time!! Yikes.
With 3 major stories and one smaller one due, I did the only thing I could do... escaped to Atlanta for a visit with my sisters on Saturday haha. I was actually away from my computer from 7 am Saturday until around noon on Sunday. Ahhhhhh.
Back to work: Matt Gingera is a scoring machine right now. Friday's game was exciting enough. I jokingly said to Jerome before yesterday's game that I guess Matt didn't get the memo...hat tricks are to be scored at home. Uh...maybe he did because he scored a second one...in a row! I'm sure you have read my story already. It's his second back-to-back. Unbelievable.
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Right now, Matt and Jordan Braid are really in sync. Can you imagine how that line will be when John Sullivan gets back? I tried to talk to John after the game yesterday, but my timing was off. He was headed into the locker room after the game, undoubtedly going straight to Matt and Jordan to congratulate them...and say 'hey, don't forget about me!'. Haha.
A man of few words anyway, all John had to say was "getting there" but we wouldn't see him real soon. Jerome told me that, thankfully, the injury isn't as bad as it was first feared when John got hurt in Knoxville. Very good news, as the original injury would have dictated a 30-day IR stint, and maybe more. John has already made progress and could begin skating again soon.
John is a necessary component of that line. He provides the grit and edge, not to mention scoring a few points of his own! It'll be great to see John back on the ice again,
The lines (if there are actually any lines with all these injuries) were juggled again when Alex MacLeod was loaned to South Carolina. Derek Pallardy played with Matt and Jordan last night. Don't look for Orrin Hergott to return any time soon. Don't know how long Alex will be gone, but Biff McNally came back to help out last night. Jerome and I were laughing about Biff's status for this weekend. He'll be the only player there with 2 sweaters. Which one will he wear this weekend? Ft. Benning's or the Snakes? Game-time decision...
The Snakes are definitely prospering in the face of adversity. Orrin out. Derek out. Bret Tyler and Tom Maldonado tag-teaming on the blue line. Bret heals a chronic injury...then Tom takes it easy for a few days to try to get a situation of his own corrected. Great to see both of these guys on the ice yesterday.
Despite all these challenges, the Cottonmouths continue their climb up the SPHL standings. The Snakes are in fifth place, but only 5 points out of first place!! Hard to reconcile those 2 statements...haha. The top 2 spots can change daily. Right now, Louisiana is in first, with Fayetteville only a point behind. Just 3 points behind Fayetteville are Knoxville and Pensacola, then the Snakes. In the past, we just thought the end of the season was frantic, with a couple of teams jockeying for positioning and playoff seeding. Can't wait to see what happens this season!
Big weekend coming up for the Snakes as they travel to Pensacola on Thursday and return home for a big series against Fayetteville. As Jordan told me last night, when you play the teams ahead of you in the standings, you have to capitalize on that opportunity.
Congrats to both Andrew Loewen and Ian Vigier as both are doing outstanding work in net. Since Ross MacKinnon of Pensacola is now in the ECHL, Andrew has risen to the top spot!! YAY. Ian has turned in 2 strong outings in a row and is now fifth. As is the case since these 2 outstanding goalies started playing together 3 seasons ago, the Snakes have the top tandem in the league. Great job, guys!
This is supposed to be a day off for me, but a busy day looms. Ya'all will see the results this weekend in what I hope will be a really special story for Legends Weekend.