Faced with a three-goal deficit, the Columbus Cottonmouths scored four straight goals to end a season-high eight-game losing streak defeating the Huntsville Havoc 4-3 Friday night at the Columbus Civic Center.
Ignited by the return of veteran Levi Lind, who is expected to remain with the team for the remainder of the season, as well as Tyler Henry, back from being on loan to the Brampton Beast of the ECHL, along with Chris Rial returning from injury, the Cottonmouths scored four or more goals for the first time in over a month.
With both teams donning superhero uniforms, Columbus (Superman) and Huntsville (Batman) battled like two fictional superheroes wasting no time getting re-acquainted with one another as Snakes forward Al Graves and Havoc forward Jeremy Beirnes fought two minutes into the contest.
"It's a new season," Columbus coach Jerome Bechard said. "It's dawn of a new day, new attitude, and a 20-game regular season for us to earn a playoff berth."
Despite the unfriendly pleasantries to begin the game, Huntsville smashed Columbus with a three-goal first period barrage, two by John Lidgett and a power play goal by Bo Driscoll.
Chasing away only nine of 12 shots, it was a short night for starting goaltender Shannon Szabados, who was pulled after allowing her third goal. In 45 minutes of relief, Brandon Jaeger was perfect, blocking 27 of 27 shots for the win.
"I thought the first five minutes was probably the hardest we've come out in a while," Bechard said. "Down 3-0 I could see we we're getting deflated and needed a change in momentum, whether Jag changed it or not, more a less we needed to change something."
Reinvigorated following the change in net, Columbus scored three straight goals, one by Tyler Henry at the end of the first along with one apiece by Kyle Johnson and Patrick McCadden in the second period, knotting the score up at three heading into the final period.
Three minutes into the third period, forward Vladyslav Gavrik completed the 4-3 comeback.
"I'm proud of the guys, it's what we have been looking for and needing all year," Bechard said. "I don't know what the rest of the season holds, but if we can get this kind of effort every night it's enough to get us in the playoffs."
Columbus, which is in ninth place in the SPHL, remains three points behind Louisiana, which beat Peoria on Friday. The Snakes are two points behind Macon.
The Snakes travel to Pensacola for a Saturday night game and will return home for a Sunday Valentine's Day matinee at 4 p.m. against Mississippi.
Friday at Columbus Civic Center
Huntsville 3 0 0--3
Columbus 1 2 1--4
First period--1, Huntsville, PP-Driscoll (Kaiser, Henegar) 10:14; 2, Huntsville, Lidgett (Perry) 11:43; 3, Huntsville, Lidgett (Robertson) 14:31; 4, Columbus, Henry (O'Quinn) 17:05; Penalties--Graves, Columbus (Equipment Violation) 1:57; Graves, Columbus (Fighting-Major) 1:57; Beirnes, Huntsville (Equipment Violation) 1:57; Beirnes, Huntsville (Fighting-Major) 1:57; Brodie, Columbus (Fighting-Major) 7:16; Schneider, Huntsville (Roughing) 7:16; Schneider, Huntsville (Fighting-Major) 7:16; Lind, Columbus (Holding) 9:09.
Second period--5, Columbus, Johnson (Gavrik) 3:02; 6, Columbus, McCadden (Willigar) 17:39; Penalties--Josepher, Huntsville (Hooking) 10:36.
Third period--7, Columbus, Gavrik (Bennett) 2:48; Penalties--Freeman, Columbus (Tripping) 14:55;
Shots on goal: Huntsville 16-11-12; Columbus 12-13-9
Power plays: Huntsville 1 of 2; Columbus 0 of 2
Goaltenders: Huntsville, Genoe (loss) 60:00 11 11 8; Columbus, Szabados 14:31 9 0 0; Jaeger (win) 45:29 4 11 12.
Referee: Kory Nagy. Linesman: Bisbee, D'Loughy.