Cottonmouths Week in Review
COLUMBUS, Ga. - The Columbus Cottonmouths swept the final week of the regular season in which they played three games in three nights in three different cities. The Snakes won an overtime decision on Thursday night at Knoxville before scoring a season-high eight goals in an 8-3 rout of the Fayetteville FireAntz, then returned home for a decisive 4-1 victory over the regular season champion Augusta RiverHawks. With the wins, Columbus clinched the second seed in the SPHL postseason and will face the Louisiana IceGators, who finished as the seventh seed in the league. Game 1 will be Tuesday at the Cajundome in Lafayette, La., with Games 2 and 3 (if needed) Thursday and Sunday, respectively, at the Snake Pit. All games will be broadcast on America One Networks with both a video and audio feed, with a nominal fee for each game. A free audio-only webcast of the games is also available. Details can be found at www.cottonmouths.com. In addition, road games are now broadcast locally in the Columbus area on 107.7 FM.
FINAL REGULAR SEASON RECORDS AND STATS
Last Week: 3-0-0
Record: 35-16-5, 75 pts (2nd, SPHL)
185 GF, 155 GA
20.5% PP (1st, SPHL); 88.6% PK (1st, SPHL)
LAST WEEK'S TRANSACTIONS
SPHL PLAYOFF PREVIEW
Augusta (1) vs. Huntsville (8) - AUG won season series 5-1-1
Game 1: Wed., 7:35 PM EDT @ AUG; Game 2: Fri, 8:35 PM EDT @ HSV; Game 3 (if necessary): Sat, 7:35 PM EDT @ AUG
The regular season champion Augusta RiverHawks will face the eighth-seeded Huntsville Havoc beginning Wednesday night at the James Brown Arena in Augusta. The RiverHawks dominated the season series against the Havoc, going 5-1-1 against them. B.J. O'Brien actually picked up three of those five wins in net before being waived by the `Hawks; current goaltenders Jon Olthuis and Peter Skoggard are 1-0-1 in the two games they have played against Huntsville. Havoc goaltender Mark Sibbald is 1-1-0 against Augusta in two games this season. Jim Gehring is the leading scorer for the RiverHawks against Huntsville on the current roster with eight points (5G, 3A), while Mike MacDonald is the leading current Havoc player against Augusta with five points (3G, 2A) in seven games. Even though the Havoc finished as the eighth and final playoff team in the SPHL, they are 3-2-1 in their last six games since the resignation of head coach Randy Murphy and the retirement and subsequent hire of interim head coach Glenn Detulleo, who actually had six assists himself in the seven games he skated against the RiverHawks.
Knoxville (3) vs. Mississippi RiverKings (6) - KNX won season series 6-3-0
Game 1: Wed, 7:30 PM EDT @ KNX; Game 2: Fri, 8:05 PM EDT @ MRK; Game 3 (if necessary): Sun, 5:00 PM EDT @ KNX
The Knoxville Ice Bears tangle with the Mississippi RiverKings in their first round playoff matchup. The two teams faced each other nine times in the regular season with the Ice Bears emerging victorious in six of those contests, although the RiverKings took two of the last three between the two teams. Knoxville has three players who scored double-digit points against Mississippi in the regular season, led by the usual suspects of Kevin Swider (2G, 15A) and Emery Olauson (7G, 5A) and rounded out by forward Eric Slais (2G, 9A). RiverKings captain Darrell Stoddard leads Mississippi in scoring against Knoxville, with eight points (5G, 3A) in the eight games he played against the Ice Bears. Jesse Kallechy, who was traded to Pensacola later in the season, was actually the goaltender of record for five of the nine games for the Ice Bears, going 3-2-0. Bryan Hince, who has since departed for the ECHL, was 1-1-0 as well, with current Knoxville #1 netminder Kyle Rank going 1-1-0 in the two games he has faced the `Kings. David Wilson and Scott Darling have manned the Mississippi net in eight of the nine games against the Ice Bears, with the pair going 3-3-2 against Knoxville.
Pensacola (4) vs. Mississippi Surge (5) - PEN won season series 5-3-2
Game 1: Fri, 8:05 PM EDT @ PEN; Game 2: Sat, 8:05 PM EDT @ MSS; Game 3 (if necessary): Sun, 6:00 PM EDT @ PEN
A pair of familiar cities will face each other again in a playoff series, separated by just a two-hour drive on Interstate 10 on the Gulf Coast. The Pensacola Ice Flyers will face the Mississippi Surge in their first round playoff series, with the hockey fans in Pensacola and Biloxi used to duels since the days of the Pensacola Ice Pilots and Mississippi Sea Wolves in the ECHL. Both teams won five games in the season series, but Pensacola won the series by virtue of two of their five losses against the Surge coming in overtime or a shootout. Forwards Chris Wilson and Mike Carter lead Pensacola in scoring against the Surge with eight points each, while Surge forwards Adam Stuart and Rob Campbell each have nine points against the Ice Flyers. Pensacola goaltender Steve Christie, who has returned to the Ice Flyers for the playoffs, was a perfect 3-0-0 against the Surge before leaving for the Central Hockey League, while Mississippi rookie netminders Kiefer Smiley and Nick Eno each were .500 against the Ice Flyers, with Smiley 3-3-0 and Eno 2-2-0 versus Pensacola.
Columbus (2) vs. Louisiana (7) - COL won season series 3-2-0
Game 1: Tue, 8:05 PM EDT @ LOU; Game 2: Thu, 7:30 PM EDT @ COL; Game 3 (if necessary): Sun, 4:00 PM EDT @ COL
The Snakes take on the Louisiana IceGators in the first round of the SPHL playoffs. The two teams have not faced each other since January 28, with the IceGators playing their only two games of the season in Columbus that weekend, dropping one in regulation and one in overtime. Louisiana is 2-1-0 against the Snakes at the Cajundome. Orrin Hergott and Derek Pallardy have identical stats (2G, 4A) against Louisiana to lead all Snakes in scoring against the `Gators, while August Aiken's three goals and five assists led Louisiana against Columbus. Current Louisiana #1 goaltender Dan Earles is 2-1-0 against the Cottonmouths in three games, while Andrew Loewen is 2-1-0 in net against the `Gators with Ian Vigier 1-1-0 in two games versus Louisiana.
COTTONMOUTHS WEEK IN REVIEW
Thursday, March 22 - Columbus 3 at Knoxville 2 (OT) (Attendance: 2,517)
Sam Bowles's goal with a minute left in overtime gave Columbus the extra standing point and a 3-2 victory over Knoxville on Thursday night. Jordan Braid and Peter MacDougall notched the regulation goals for the Snakes. Ian Vigier took the win in net for the Snakes with 40 saves on 42 shots, while the Ice Bears' Kyle Rank had 21 saves on 24 shots in the loss. Columbus was 1 for 3 on the power play while holding Knoxville scoreless in their four chances with the man advantage.
Friday, March 23 - Columbus 8 at Fayetteville 3 (Attendance: 3,189)
Columbus scored a season-high eight goals in an 8-3 rout of the Fayetteville FireAntz at the Crown Coliseum on Friday night. The Cottonmouths scored the first six goals of the contest as Sam Bowles and Jordan Braid led the Snakes with two goals apiece while Orrin Hergott, Kevin Kessler, Andrew Krelove, and Bret Tyler also scored for Columbus. Bowles also added three assists for a five-point night while Braid tallied two assists for four points. Andrew Loewen picked up the win in net for the Cottonmouths with 21 saves on 24 shots, while Fayetteville's Mike Brown hung in throughout in net for the FireAntz, finishing with 32 saves on 40 shots on goal. The Snakes matched an SPHL season high for power play goals in a game with six of them as they were 6 for 9 with the man advantage, while the `Antz finished 0 for 6 on the PP.
Saturday, March 24 - Augusta 1 at Columbus 4 (Attendance: 3,931)
Columbus scored the first three goals of the game Saturday night en route to a 4-1 victory over the regular season champion Augusta RiverHawks. Dave Cianfrini, Orrin Hergott, Levi Lind, and Mitch Wall scored the goals for Columbus. Ian Vigier picked up the win for the Snakes, his league-leading 21st of the season, stopping 35 of 36 shots on goal. Jon Olthuis had 28 saves on 32 shots on goal in the loss in net for Augusta. The Cottonmouths were 1 for 4 on the power play while finishing a perfect weekend on the penalty kill, holding Augusta scoreless in six power play opportunities.
THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
1. F Sam Bowles - Bowles had a career night on Friday in Fayetteville with five points off two goals and three assists and also scored the overtime game-winner in Knoxville on Thursday night.
2. G Ian Vigier - Vigier picked up two big wins in net, stopping a combined 75 of 78 shots against Knoxville on Thursday night and Augusta on Saturday
3. F Jordan Braid - Braid had seven points on the week with a goal and assist on Bowles's game-winner Thursday, two goals and two assists in Fayetteville Friday, and an assist on Saturday.
• Discuss this story on the Southern Professional Hockey League message board...
Southern Professional Hockey League Stories from March 28, 2012
- Ice Bears to Regroup After Loss - Knoxville Ice Bears
- Auffrey, Graham's Heroics Earn RiverHawks Game One - Augusta RiverHawks
- RiverKings and Lifeblood Team up to Save Lives One Pint of Blood at a Time - Mississippi RiverKings
- Ice Flyers' Chong and Wilson Named SPHL All Stars - Pensacola Ice Flyers
- Ice Bears' Mark Van Vliet Wins Back-To-Back Defenseman of the Year - Knoxville Ice Bears
- Knoxville's Mark Van Vliet Named SBK Defenseman of the Year - SPHL
- Cottonmouths' Sam Bowles Named SBK Player of the Week - SPHL
- Cottonmouths Week in Review - Columbus Cottonmouths
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.