FireAntz vs. Cottonmouths: At-A-Glance
[FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.] - The Fayetteville FireAntz of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) have qualified for the President's Cup Playoffs and are set to take on the Columbus Cottonmouths. The FireAntz enter the playoffs as the #3 seed and Columbus enters as the #2 seed. The winner of the best-of-five series will play the winner of the Knoxville Ice Bears and Huntsville Havoc mathcup for the SPHL's President's Cup.
The season series was a spectacular one, with the FireAntz holding a slight 5-4-1 edge over the Cottonmouths. The FireAntz won the most recent contest, on March 17th in Columbus, 4-3 on an overtime goal off the stick of Matt Moreland.
Both teams enter the playoffs with great goaltending situations. For the FireAntz, Chad Collins led the league in minutes played and was third in the SPHL in wins with 18. Newcomer Guy (Geee) St. Vincent played the final eight games for the club going 6-2-0 with a 2.37 goals-against-average and a .919 save percentage, en route to earning SPHL Player of the Month recognition for March.
Columbus enters with a two-headed goaltending monster of their own. Chad Rycroft and Ian Vigier nearly split playing time down the middle with Rycroft playing 27 games and Vigier playing in 33. Vigier had the better record, going 19-9-5 while Rycroft was 12-13-2. Vigier was also the 2nd Team All-SPHL goaltender.
For the FireAntz, Rob Sich was far and away the club's leading scorer. He led the SPHL in goals with 40, breaking the club's team record of 38 set by Steve Roberts in 2004-05. His 78 points was second only to Knoxville's Kevin Swider. He was also named to the 2nd team All-SPHL. Sich was not the only forward to note, however. Linemates Matt Moreland and Chris Leveille provided solid punch for the club as well, tallying 43 and 40 points respectively. The line of Dan Buccella, Emery Olauson and Brett Needham contributed offensively as well with Olauson and Buccella second and third on the club in scoring. The addition of Brett McConnachie to a rejuvenated line with Marc Norrington and Rob Colangelo gives the FireAntz a well-balanced attack.
Columbus enters the series with a very well-balanced offensive attack as well. Like the FireAntz, one Cottonmouths forward, Tim Green (75 points) made the 2nd Team All-SPHL. Columbus also boasts three forwards who had over 50 points, Lorne Misita (56), Sam Bowles (53) and Michael George (50).
The FireAntz have continually solidified the defensive corps throughout the season, and it is at its' strongest entering the playoffs. Season-long stalwarts Corey Hessler and Lawne Snyder each made the 2nd Team All-SPHL while Craig Geerlinks tied for the team lead in +/- rating with a +12. Joining Geerlinks, with a +12, was newcomer Bob Rapoza. He accomplished the feat in a mere nine games played.
Columbus defenders had great seasons as well. Mat Ponto (31 points), Tyler Johnson (28 points) and Kyle Lundale (27 points) all had great offensive seasons. Lundale was also named to the All-SPHL Rookie Team.
Game 1: @ Columbus, Thursday, March 26th
Game 2: @ Columbus, Saturday, March 28th
Game 3: @ Fayetteville, Sunday March 29th at 5 pm
Game 4: @ Fayetteville, Monday, March 30th at 7 pm*
Game 5: @ Columbus, Wednesday, April 1st*
Note: * if necessary
Fans may purchase FireAntz home playoff tickets from the Crown Coliseum Box Office, in Fayetteville. Also, if fans have a group of 10 or more people, they may purchase discounted tickets, at $10 a piece, from the FireAntz office.
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Southern Professional Hockey League Stories from March 23, 2009
- FireAntz vs. Cottonmouths: At-A-Glance - Fayetteville Marksmen
- Four Snakes Receive SPHL Honors - Columbus Cottonmouths
- Kauffeldt Named SPHL MVP - SPHL
- Snakes to Face FireAntz in First-Round Action - Columbus Cottonmouths
- Richard, Melnyk Receive League Honors - Twin City Cyclones
- SPHL Playoffs Set - Huntsville Havoc
- St. Vincent Named SPHL Player of the Month - Fayetteville Marksmen
- Sich Named SPHL Player of the Week - Fayetteville Marksmen
- Renegades Named SPHL Award Winners - Richmond Renegades
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