The term is called Rope-a-Dope. The unconventional strategy used by Muhammad Ali in his legendary 1974 fight against George Foreman – The Rumble in the Jungle. Ali, spending much of the fight up against the ropes, taking shot after shot from the larger and stronger Foreman, won the fight by counterattacking and wearing his opponent down.

Last night, the Columbus Cottonmouths employed a similar strategy against the Macon Mayhem in the opening game of their best-of-three first-round series. The Mayhem tilted play in their offensive zone for much of the night, outshooting the Snakes 52-22. The Cottonmouths defense played deep in their zone for much of the night, allowing the Mayhem low-percentage and unscreened shots for goaltender Mavric Parks to dispose of. The Snakes only needed to strike once in this game, with Alex Kromm deflecting a long shot by Nick Owen past Macon netminder Jordan Ruby 21 seconds into the second period. The Columbus defense, absorbing shot after shot from a skilled Macon team, did exactly what then needed to take Game One. The teams will meet again at the Columbus Civic Center tonight in the rematch – a  second chance Foreman never had.

Meanwhile, in Pensacola, the Ice Flyers were up to old tricks. Goaltender Matt Zenzola racked up his eighth-straight postseason victory, while his Fayetteville FireAntz counterpart Sean Bonar was denied his first playoff win. Trade deadline acquisition Massimo Lamacchia provided the offense for Rod Aldoff’s Ice Flyers, chipping in the series’ first goal and helping on the second. The FireAntz, a team struggling to score goals lately, were unable to solve Zenzola until Evan Dixon scored with 9:44 remaining in the third period. Fayetteville was unable to produce an equalizer and Jeremy Gates added the empty-net insurance marker to seal the 3-1 decision.

We’re two games into the Presidents Cup Playoffs, and the lower seeds – with the help of good goaltending – have the league’s two top teams on the verge of elimination.

It’s like 2015 all over again.

Our Three Stars of Last Night

★ – Mavric Parks (G-COL) – 52-Save Shutout
★★ – Massimo Lamacchia (C-PEN) – Goal, Game-winning assist
★★★ – Matt Zenzola (G-PEN) – 27/28 saves, 8th straight postseason win

Last Night’s Results and Tonight’s Games

 

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