COLUMBUS, GA – When Coach Jerome Bechard said this year, “New Season, New Snakes,” he wasn’t kidding.
Columbus Cottonmouths hockey has truly become fast-paced and physical. The back and forth play and the physical presence of the Snakes against the Macon Mayhem during the first period were like watching old hockey. So, I have to admit, it was a little surprising that the first goal came from Macon with 2:28 left in the period from Matt Summers.
The second period saw Daniel Gentzler of Macon and Columbus forward Derek Gingera mix it up. Apparently, there was still some more unfinished business, since less than two minutes later, Macon’s Jeff Sanders and Cody Castro of the Snakes come together for a little push and shove. So the pairs sat in the penalty box, earning a bit of a rest.
In front of a crowd of 3,486; Columbus left the ice with a home-opening loss of 1-0 to Macon, thanks to a 40-save shutout from Garrett Bartus, the reigning SPHL Goalie of the Year. What the fans left the ice with, was sixty minutes of fast-paced, gritty, and in-your-face style hockey.
“It seemed fitting,” Jamie Anderson, of Macon, said, “They took our home opener, we took theirs.” The Cottonmouths defeated the Mayhem in the Macon Coliseum, 4-3 in overtime, on opening night.
What I like to call the ‘Battle for Georgia’ – now tied, one game a piece in the regular season is going to be a series to watch. But no one on the Snakes side was holding their heads low. It’s way too early in the season for that. I caught up with Columbus forward Ben O’Quinn before he left for the evening.
The Sin Bin: What is different about today than yesterday against Macon? You won their home opener, they won yours.
Ben O’Quinn: I thought our team played pretty strong both games this weekend. Last night we were fortunate enough to get some bounces. Tonight, Bartus was pretty hot in goal. We are looking to build off this. We’re not holding our heads down. We’re gonna take the positives out of it, and go from there.
TSB: What changes would you have made, looking at both games now, from last night to tonight, if any?
BOQ: Just simplicity. Get the puck on net. I think we just need to run over our systems again and make sure everyone is on board. Build off that.
TSB: You are looking wicked fast this year, much different than last year. What do you think?
BOQ: Yeah, we were skating in quicksand last year. But, we have seemed to have taken the off-season the right way, and gotten everyone on board. So, we’re just excited.
On asking to get fans to the games, Ben said, “Come down! It was a great time tonight. The crowd was loud. There are lots of giveaways. We’d love to see you cheer for us.”