Columbus Cottonmouths

Camo Classic

      Sorry, ya'all...just didn't have it in me to recap Legends and Military Appreciation weekend last night. I had less than 20 minutes to write my story, then stalked Derek Pallardy and Andrew Loewen outside the hospitality suites. Talked to them and Jerome, visited with a few Legends and my pal Danny and got home at 11:30. Yikes...

       Random sights, sounds and thoughts from a wonderful weekend...

       First of all, Dave Kessler was absent all weekend. Danny said he was on vacation, but it was not one I authorized or was informed about. Was about to call 911 when I couldn't see Dave. Just sayin...

       The battle of the Ft B's: Benning vs Bragg... was so much more intense than I expected!! I know these young men are trained to fight for their beliefs and our freedom and way of life, but I underestimated the pride each team brought for its post. Pride is not just a plate on the back of their sweaters. This was a hard-fought contest by both teams.

       William Leahy scored the first Benning goal. A number of the current Snakes were watching from behind the glass. It was so neat that when the light went on, the guys started banging on the glass in support of their Benning peers. YAY.

       Two of our soldier-Snakes had a hand in the scoring. Captain Ken Porter, captain of the Benning squad, had an assist as did Captain Biff McNally. Ya'all know about, and have hopefully already read, the story I did on Biff for Friday's paper. What a terrific young man, one I'm so proud to have defending my country and protecting the freedom we enjoy. However, this fine young man was definitely in the face of Ft. Bragg's number 3 during the game...haha.

       Leahy tied the shootout 1-1 and Brian McWilliams scored the game winner. Sorry I don't know William or Brian's rank. Hope I don't get court-martialed...:( haha

       Taking the traditional group picture, the guys faced the player benches as they usually do. Then they got up and took one facing the penalty box side. Don't know whose idea that was, but it was a good one!!

       So happy to have the Ledger-Enquirer's busy photo staff on board for this important weekend. Robin Trimarchi took the photo of Biff for the Friday story, Joe Paull did a photo gallery from the Legends game and Mike Haskey for the Camo Classic. Many thanks to my loyal assistant and friend Kevin Mills who tracked down rosters for me to give to Mike.

       I was busy navigating through the more than 2500 soldiers en route to get Reese's chicken basket. My husband was coming later, so I thought I'd give it a try. Thanks to a suggestion from Miss Flit, and my All-Access pass :), I went back behind the suites and headed toward the chicken finger booth...where I found about a million soldiers, give or take a few...haha.

       It was awesome how the guys let me and another lady move to the front of the line. In chatting with a few of them, it was great to find out that many of them were attending their first hockey game. They picked a good one!!

       Final thoughts on the Camo Classic. The national anthem and God Bless America made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Such a rich sound and great pace. Very particular about how the national anthem is performed. It's not a funeral dirge, nor is it an American Idol audition piece. My suggestion, not that anybody asked...haha: Record the Army band's rendition and use it every night!! It's awesome!

       The Snakes' first goal was originally credited to Tommy Fitzpatrick. I was a little surprised because those really long shots by the defensemen from just inside the blue line rarely make it all the way through. Usually they're deflected out in front. As it turns out, Alex MacLeod did deflect it and so Alex gets credit for the goal. Tommy and Matt Gingera get the assists.

        Shortly after the goal, Fayetteville's Corey Toy was injured and, according to SPHL rules, had to leave the ice for the rest of the period. I have mixed feelings about this rule. It's adversely affected the Snakes before. Last season, John Sullivan sustained an injury that would be likened to what Jerome calls ringing his bell. A hard hit that stuns the player for a couple of seconds, but not anything near a concussion. John was on his feet in seconds, but had to leave for the majority of a period.

        The other side of the argument and probably one reason the rule is in place, is to keep players from turning in Academy Award-worthy acting jobs in trying to get a penalty called. Laying on the ice willing themselves to bleed so they can get a double minor. :) So I understand the purpose of the rule. Tough call for the ref, though.

       I believe Corey Bellamy was the soldiers' favorite player...haha. They roared their approval when he took on Tyler Matheson only 4 minutes into the game.

       Fayetteville's first goal was just one of those things. A situation where everybody in the arena just groans. Andrew was sprawled on his belly after making a save and Kavanaugh popped it top shelf. Andrew is in a zone right now, but he's not Superman. haha. It happens. Tie game, 1-1.

        I told Andrew after the game that I, and my fellow senior citizens, go crazy when he wanders out of his net. Andrew explained what happened.

      "There was a scramble out front and the guy was skating down. I had to cover that area so I pushed to take that away. I covered the open net and that took me out of position. The guy went behind the net and I was about a quarter of a second too late."

      The Snakes trailed 2-1 after two periods in a game they badly wanted to win. Winning the opener of three-in-three was followed by a lethargic loss on Friday night and a couple of low energy periods on Saturday.

        Derek has battled to come back from a concussion, playing on the blue line to work his way back. He's back up front now and scored a critical goal in this game, the tying goal early in the third. Derek described the mood in the locker room between the second and third periods.

        "We'd been getting away with playing mediocre hockey. Our old attitude is coming back. We know we're going to win games. In the locker room after the second period, we said we've got 20 minutes left in this weekend of three-in-three. We realized the value of home ice last year. We're taking it one game at a time. The tight standings keep us motivated during a long season. These are the dog days of the season in January and February. We have to make every game count."

       Jerome also described the locker room after the second period. 

       "We've got 20 minutes of hard hockey left. This could be an ugly goal. It doesn't have to be pretty. Fayetteville was playing its third in 3 in a hostile atmosphere. This game should go our way. We won 2 games this weekend and we didn't deserve to win either. We got some lucky breaks. We're out of whack. With all of the games we've had, we haven't had a good, hard practice since Christmas. We've got some serious work to do."

       The guys hit the road for the next 3 games, yet another series of tests. Next game at the Snake Pit isn't until Feb. 9.

        Stay tuned.