FAYETTEVILLE, NC — The Fayetteville FireAntz fans were slow to file into the Crown Coliseum on Veterans Night in Fayetteville. Coincidentally, the FireAntz hockey team was slow on the ice and never seemed to gather much momentum as they were shut out by the Columbus Cottonmouths, 2-0, in front of 2,300 fans at the Crown Coliseum.
While the Cottonmouths seemed to have fresh legs despite an overnight bus ride from Huntsville after being shutout 3-0 the previous night, the FireAntz seemed to be tired after their much shorter bus ride from Roanoke. The Cottonmouths controlled play for much of the opening period and got the scoring started at 10:41 of the first period when defenseman Spencer Galbraith skated the puck toward FireAntz goalie Sean Bonar and snapped a wrist shot that beat him high short side. The goal was Galbraith’s first of the season.
The FireAntz had the opportunity to gain a little momentum to start the middle period after killing off a 5-on-3 situation. The FireAntz were caught with too many men on the ice at the end of the first period and forward Taylor Thompson was called for high sticking just 29 seconds into the second period. Bonar did his best to keep his team in the game by making two great glove saves on one-timers by wide open Cottonmouths players camped out in the high slot. But the FireAntz never were able to generate much sustained offensive pressure as the period rolled along. The Cottonmouths players kept the shots on the perimeter and cleared any rebounds Columbus goalie Lukas Hafner was not able to control.
The FireAntz best chances to score came in the 3rd period. Forward Joseph Manno collected a loose puck at center ice and raced towards the Cottonmouths net on a shorthanded breakaway chance before having his scoring chance thwarted by a hook. The referee, however, awarded a penalty shot to Manno on the play but Hafner was up to the challenge as he denied Manno’s wrist shot with his pad. Hafner also denied FireAntz forward Brad Drobot on a 2-on-1 chance with about five minutes left in the game, one of the few odd-man rushes the FireAntz had all game. The Cottonmouths extended their lead to 2-0 when Derek Gingera deposited the puck into an empty net while Bonar was out of position after giving up a rebound on a shot by Dylen McKinlay. The goal was Gingera’s first of the season and both Cottonmouths goals were scored by players scoring their first goals of the young season.
The FireAntz loss to the Cottonmouths takes both teams’ records to 3-3-0 on the season. After starting the season with three straight wins, the FireAntz lose three straight and look to get back to their winning ways when they hit the road to take on the Mississippi Riverkings next Friday and Saturday.
|Columbus – Spencer Galbraith (unassisted) 10:41|
|Columbus – Derek Gingera (Alex Pompeo, Dylen McKinlay) 7:11|
Team Sin Bin’s Three Stars of the Game
★ – G Lukas Hafner (COL) First pro shutout. 29 saves on 29 shots.
★★ – D Spencer Galbraith (COL) – Game winning goal
★★★ – F Derek Gingera (COL) – Goal