There is something about the Snake Pit right now, and it’s keeping the Columbus Cottonmouths from winning at home.
Whatever it is, the joke with a few fans is that some holy water needs to be sprinkled on the ice. Bring in a Rabbi maybe? Or even a Shaman to burn some sage. Since the Snakes play better on the road, maybe they need to stay the night in a hotel to give them the illusion that they are on the road.
No matter what it is that’s going on…the Snakes aren’t winning…at home.
This past week, the Snakes had three games at home, all were losses.
Saturday night against the Mississippi Riverkings, Craig Simchuk had the lone Cottonmouths goal, which came unassisted. Goalie Brandon Jaeger kept the Riverkings to just two goals, which is becoming something synonymous for the Snakes.
“I thought we were a little slow. Timid with the pucks. We didn’t have a lot of energy,” Jaeger said, after the game. “They outshot us on the scoreboard pretty bad. We finally picked it up the last ten minutes of the game, but it was a little too late.”
Simchuk on his goal, “I think it was kind of lucky, got a lucky bounce. I know they had possession…and next thing I know, no one’s around me. The puck is laying in the slot, I just turned and fired. I knew where I wanted it to go, and put it there. But, I still don’t know how it ended up there. I don’t know if one of my teammates put it on my stick. Right place, right time…” Simchuk shrugs.
The goal was definitely the momentum that the Snakes needed, just ended up not being enough.
“This was a tough one. Get a five minute PK. We killed it, which was nice, but it’s tough to spend so much time killing penalties. We just have to play a little simpler, compete a little harder. Beat them when you can,” Spencer Galbraith said.
Even pulling Jaeger for a sixth man on the offensive, the Snakes couldn’t capitalize, and fell 2-1.
Photo courtesy of BLD Graphics
This past Friday night saw a rematch against the Riverkings. The Riverkings were on the board for three when Derek Gingera scored, with help from Spencer Galbraith and Jonathan Turk, halfway through the second.
Even with the lone goal, Gingera found himself in the sin bin across from Matt Harrington, in the beginning of the third for a fighting major. Much like the Huntsville game, there was a lot of pushing and shoving from both sides, leading to hot tempers all around.
At the end of sixty, though, the Snakes found themselves leaving the ice losing, 4-1.
Tuesday, the Snakes had a little extra time as the Huntsville Havoc were delayed getting to Columbus. I have to give credit to the Havoc, though, they parked, unpacked, and dressed for a game within minutes.
Tuesday’s game showed the Snakes more hungry and aggressive than they have ever looked at a home game. They lead the shots on goal with 16 to Huntsville’s 9 just in the first period alone. Defenseman, Cody Castro, up-ended a few Havoc players, only to be met with a little push and shove afterward.
Corey Tyrell came out of nowhere to score, with an assist from Riley Spraggs to put the Snakes up on the scoreboard first. Minutes later, the Havoc would tie it up. The second period also had the Snakes scoring first, with Jonathan Turk putting one in the net with help from Craig Simchuk, and Spencer Galbraith.
The Snakes were physical and were met with that physicality from the larger Havoc players. Spencer Galbraith went toe to toe with the Havoc’s, Justin Tateson, exchanging words, before the refs separated them. Ben O’Quinn and Evan Neugold were constantly parking in front of the Havoc net. This is just an example of how exciting it was on Tuesday.
Still, even with penalties coming at a minimum, the Havoc scored with 18 seconds on the clock in the third period and got the empty net when Columbus goaltender, Lukas Hafner was pulled for an extra attacker.
“We played the game we wanted to play,” Coach Jerome Bechard said of his team. “They came out shooting the puck. They didn’t have forty shots, which is what I wanted, but, we were up there (33 each). I thought we were hungry, and created some offensive chances. Kept, probably the highest scoring team in the league in check. So I’m happy with that. Not happy with the outcome, but we worked hard…just got snakebit.”
With the physicality of play from his boys, coach said, “I think everybody followed suit. Galbraith, Gingera, everybody with hitting and banging. Hafner as well. It’s what we need against a team like that.”
“I think it’s the small things. We are trying to do too much,” Corey Tyrell said. “Not sticking to our simple game plan. We did most of the time, until the last two minutes. There was a small breakdown, but for the most part, we had a great game.” With a sheepish smile, Tyrell went on to say, “This was definitely our best home game so far.”
The Snakes are on the precipice of a win here at home. Everyone can feel it. It’s just out of reach. But, when that win happens…you’ll be able to hear it a few states away. You’ll be able to feel the collective sigh of relief. The Cottonmouth faithful still comes to watch the Snakes play their style of hockey…physical, aggressive and in-your-face.
There are 44 games left for the Snakes for the regular season…there is still plenty of hockey left. The momentum that some teams have now could turn into a slump…and when it does happen…be ready. Anything can happen in this league, you just never know.