The Columbus Cottonmouths had a chance Sunday to climb out the SPHL cellar. Instead, they dropped their eighth straight game, losing to the Louisiana Ice Gators 3-1 at the Columbus Civic Center.
Surpassing their previous season-high losing streak of seven games, Columbus is fully cemented in the bottom of the nine-team SPHL standings three points behind eighth-place Louisiana.
The club missed on a couple of early scoring chances, combining to go 0-for-6 on the power play in the first period.
Following a scoreless opening period, the Ice Gators notched the first goal of the game pressing Columbus into an own zone turnover. Alex Hudson scored the opening goal, deflecting the puck in front of the net off a blue-line slap shot from Ben Kramer.
Aided by some heavy traffic in front of the net, Louisiana's Brad Bourke scored his fifth goal of the season on a long wrist shot from the point, helping the Ice Gators take a 2-0 late in the second period.
"With call-ups and injuries, we just can't seem to get an offensive rhythm going," Columbus coach Jerome Bechard said. "We executed well enough to win tonight, just got snake bitten on the offensive end with some minor things like timing and puck handing."
Trailing 2-0, Columbus cut the deficit in half when Al Graves scored his third goal of the season off an assist by Tyler Henry from behind the net. Henry was a welcome re-addition to the lineup after missing the previous two games for a stint with ECHL's Brampton Beast.
Louisiana's Travis Armstrong scored the team's third and final goal, the lone power play goal, at 18:40.
Brad Barone made 37 saves for Louisiana on 38 shots to record his fourth win in his last five starts, all of which have come on the road. Columbus goaltender Brandon Jaeger allowed three goals to Louisiana on 41 shots.
Columbus went 0-for-6 on the power play, failing to capitalize on Louisiana ranking last in the SPHL in penalty kill percentage.
"This weekend's shortcomings weren't due to lack of effort but more lack of confidence," Bechard said. "When you don't feel confident in holding your sticks, you can get frustrated and have mental breakdowns on the ice."
The Cottonmouths host the Huntsville Havoc on Friday. Huntsville leads the season series 5-1.
Note: Columbus lost 2-1 at Macon on Saturday night.
Valdyslav Gavrik scored Columbus' lone goal in the second period to tie the game at 1.
Sunday at Columbus Civic Center
Louisiana 0 2 1--3
Columbus 0 0 1--1
First period--Penalties--Hietala, Louisiana (High Sticking) 2:09; Hafner, Columbus (High Sticking) 8:52; Hudson, Louisiana (Slashing) 9:32; Hietala, Louisiana (High Sticking) 12:28; Hubbard, Columbus (Cross Checking) 16:52; Sandler, Louisiana (Slashing) 19:06.
Second period--1, Louisiana, Hudson (Kramer, Hood) 4:12; 2, Louisiana, Bourke (Hood) 18:39; Penalties--Sandler, Louisiana (Interference) 12:20.
Third period--3, Columbus, Graves (Henry, Hubbard) 2:43; 4, Louisiana, PP-Armstrong (Frischmon) 18:40; Penalties--Shapiro, Columbus (Hooking) 9:47; Gavrik, Columbus (Hooking) 16:53; Kavanagh, Louisiana (Cross Checking) 19:47.
Shots on goal: Louisiana 14-13-14; Columbus 9-13-16
Power plays: Louisiana 1 of 4; Columbus 0 of 6
Goaltenders: Louisiana, Barone (win) 60:00 9 13 15; Columbus, Jaeger (loss) 59:01 14 11 13
Referee: Sean Fernandez, Peter Schlittlenhardt. Linesman: D'Loughy, Kuerston.